As England enters its second week of lockdown 2.0, the return of large-scale passenger demand is still far away on the horizon. As such, flag-carrier British Airways has taken the decision to move parts of its Airbus A380 fleet for storage in Madrid. The first of the superjumbos made the journey yesterday, with the second just entering Spanish airspace at the time of writing.
Winter scheduling turned to storage
This year has been the fall of the quad-jets. The Boeing 747 and the Airbus A380 have exited fleets left, right, and center in the face of previously unimaginable low passenger demand. Cautious optimism at the end of the summer saw British Airways tentatively scheduling its A380s for its winter schedule.
However, any hopes of a return to traffic volumes warranting the deployment of the superjumbo were dashed as the second wave of infections hit the England with lockdown 2.0 as a result.
With only sporadic passenger flights since their grounding in March, it will now be a while yet until the BA A380s return to regular service. British Airways has begun moving parts of its Airbus A380 fleet for long-term storage in Madrid.
According to the World of Aviation, they will not fly again until at least early-to-mid 2021. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the airline told the media outlet there are no plans for the aircraft’s early retirement.
Two have already made their way
Most of BA’s A380s have spent the last months parked at Chateauroux in France while rotating back to the UK for maintenance. G-XLEF flew from Chateauroux Centre Marcel Dassault Airport to London’s Heathrow on November 5th, only to continue on to Madrid yesterday, November 11th. At the time of writing, its stablemate G-XLEG was just on its way from Heathrow to join it.
It is yet unconfirmed how many of its A380s BA will move. The reason for moving them to Madrid also remains unclear. It could potentially be due to maintenance made easier through IAG partner airline Iberia, or parking costs for storage at the different facilities.
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Potentially a large part of the fleet will follow
Reports are also coming in that as many as 60 to 70 of BA’s aircraft could be heading for storage across Spain in Madrid, Teruel, and on the island of Mallorca, and that the carrier could be letting go of several of its A320s. We shall have to await further information and confirmation, but it is dire news indeed.
Not really good times for #BritishAirways
A number of A320s will be leaving the fleet. Either to be scrapped or sold.
— M Zulqarnain B (@MZulqarnainBut1) November 11, 2020
Simple Flying has reached out for a comment from BA on the move of parts of the fleet from France to Spain but was yet to receive a reply at the time of publication.
Only a handful of routes operated by the A380
The only airline to bring the A380 back in earnest since the crisis is Emirates, the world’s largest operator of the type. It has even returned the superjumbo to a three-hour service from Dubai to Amman in Jordan. The carrier’s choice to reinstate its giant of the skies on seven of its routes has sparked commentary from rival Gulf carrier Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker. In an interview last month, he said that any airline operating the A380 at this time was “very foolish.”
Why do you think BA is moving parts of its A380 fleet? When do you think it will fly again? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.