The Return Of The A380: Are There Promising Signs?

Six airlines are down to fly the A380 this year, with the type’s re-entry gathering pace – but it’ll be vastly below the pre-pandemic level. Qantas’ confirmation that it expects all of its A380 to be reactivated will boost confidence in this very large aircraft.

BA A380
British Airways has scheduled its A380s to restart in June. They’ll be used to Dubai, Los Angeles, Miami, and San Francisco. Photo: Getty Images.

There are promising signs that the use of the A380 will increase in the coming months, with a gradual build-up expected from a near-zero base. But the A380 will never again be anywhere near pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, the A380 had 119,000 scheduled flights. This year, it is just over 25,000, although that may change – up or down.

Some six airlines are due to operate the A380 this year, down from 14 regular users in 2019, excluding those that temporarily used Hi Fly’s A380s, such as Norwegian and Air Madagascar.

Etihad Airways A380
Previously big users of the A380, such as Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, presently have no flights scheduled by them. But will they? Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

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Big-time airlines are missing

While multiple airlines retired the A380, is it notable that other big users, including Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways, have no services scheduled – at least for now. This chimes with Etihad recently saying that it is not yet sure if the aircraft will return to service.

Meanwhile, Qantas’ CEO, Alan Joyce, said today that he expects all of the airline’s A380s to be reactivated, but demand will dictate when this happens. This may be as late as 2024, given this is the year that Joyce expects international demand to return to the level seen in 2019. However, if demand increases faster than expected, they could re-enter service within three to six months.

Qantas A380
Qantas has confirmed that it expects to use all of its A380s again. Photo: Getty Images.

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Three airlines to use the A380 in May

In May, only Emirates, China Southern, and Korean Air are due to operate the A380, analyzing OAG data and relating to bookable flights reveals. Like Emirates, China Southern is using them now. And in May, it has allocated the aircraft to five routes from Guangzhou, mainly to Los Angeles and Melbourne, Paris CDG, Sydney, and Tokyo Narita.

Korean Air, meanwhile, will initially use it very minimally on a once-weekly service from Seoul to Guangzhou before ramping up from June.

The A380's ramp-up
While things can and will change, the A380’s ramp-up as of now is clear. Source: OAG Schedules Analyzer.

Rising to six airlines this winter

Come June, British Airways will once again have A380 service, with the type used to Dubai, Los Angeles, Miami, and San Francisco. All were A380 routes before coronavirus began, although Dubai began only in 2019.

Singapore Airlines had expected to resume A380 operations in June, including to Beijing, Delhi, Mumbai, Shanghai Pudong, and Sydney. However, it has pushed this back to July, nicely showing how things can – and will – change. In July, it presently expects to use the aircraft to nine destinations; the above, plus the likes of Frankfurt, Paris CDG, and Zurich.

Singapore Airlines A380
Singapore Airlines is set to be the world’s second-largest A380 user this year. Photo: Getty Images.

All Nippon and Asiana

All Nippon (ANA) also expects to resume A380 service from July, with just one route: Tokyo Narita to Honolulu. It inaugurated this route using the 520-seat on May 24th, 2019, with the aircraft in an eye-catching turtle-themed livery. The airline acquired the high-density aircraft solely for this route.

Asiana A380
Asiana will use the A380 on two routes. Photo: Getty Images.

South Korea’s Asiana completes the list of six, with its reentry expected on October 31st from Seoul to both Frankfurt and Los Angeles.

Are you looking forward to flying the A380 again? Do you think Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways will resume using the aircraft? Comment below!