Asiana Airlines could be forced to operate a series of Airbus A380 ghost flights. The flights would be necessary to keep their pilots current, considering that the airline isn’t currently utilizing its fleet of Airbus A380s.
Airlines around the globe have grounded their Airbus A380 fleets. In fact, except for repositioning flights for reasons such as retirement, China Southern is the only airline still using the type for passenger services. While grounding such giants seems like an obvious action in terms of cost-cutting, it can have some consequences as Asiana Airlines is about to find out.
A380 fleet grounded
None of Asiana Airlines’ Airbus A380s are currently flying. The airline has six such aircraft which each last flew on the following dates according to data from FlightRadar24.com:
- HL7625 – Last flew from Los Angeles to Seoul on the 10th of March;
- HL7626 – Last flew from Seoul to Manila on the 24th of February, likely for heavy maintenance;
- HL7634 – Last flew from Sydney to Seoul on the 30th of March;
- HL7635 – Last flew from Los Angeles to Seoul on the 11th of March;
- HL7640 – Last flew from Frankfurt to Seoul on the 11th of March;
- HL7641 – Last flew from Los Angeles to Seoul on the 9th of March.
In summary, only one of the airline’s A380s has flown since the 12th of March, however, apart from the one-off rotation to Syndey, this also last flew on the 13th of March to Frankfurt and back.
Keeping pilots current
Asiana’s grounded fleet of Airbus A380s leaves the airline in a bit of a pickle as One Mile At A Time first explained. Asiana Airline’s pool of 143 A380 pilots is required to complete three takeoffs and landings within the preceding 90 days to remain current on the type.
However, as the fleet has been effectively grounded for the past month and a half, many pilots haven’t been able to fly. Usually, pilots can use approved simulators for takeoffs and landings. However, there is an issue with this too. OMAAT notes that Asiana Airlines typically uses Thai Airways’ simulators for such purposes. Due to current quarantine regulations, this is not currently possible.
As a short term remedy, the airline had approached South Korea’s other A380 airline, Korean Air, to help out. However, given that its fleet of A380s is currently grounded, this is also not an option.
This leaves Asiana little choice but to get its aircraft back in the skies, even if they’re operating ghost flights. It will be a significant amount of work to get an A380 ready for flight again, but it will be worth it to keep pilots current. Earlier today, we reported that it could take a team of four to five people up to 24 hours to reactivate a stored Airbus A380.
Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair has been flying its Boeing 737 fleet around airports in loops for the same reason. The carrier is operating ghost flights to keep both its aircraft and pilots operationally ready.
What do you make of Asiana’s predicament? Are ghost flights the way to go? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!