Over the summer, British Airways stored its entire fleet of Airbus A380 aircraft in Chateauroux, France. However, G-XLEH left the facility today, meaning that no A380s now remain at the French Airport.
Parking a large number of aircraft is difficult for any airline. Indeed, when faced with strike action in 2019, British Airways had to park A380s as far away as California as there isn’t enough room for BA’s entire fleet at its hubs. However, when every airline began wishing to park its fleet at once, the industry was suddenly running out of room on the ground, prompting some airports to park aircraft on runways and taxiways.
Final Chateauroux departure
G-XLEH became the final Airbus A380 to depart Chateauroux this afternoon. The aircraft took off from the airport at 14:33. With a flight time of one hour and 13 minutes, the aircraft touched down at its London Heathrow home at 14:46.
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G-XLEH has flown much more than most of the airline’s A380 fleet since the airline paused operations of the giant of the skies. In May, the aircraft flew out to Manila for heavy maintenance. It remained on the other side of the world until August when it flew to Chateauroux via London Heathrow.
G-XLEG has flown further, having completed two rotations to Johannesburg in June as part of the airline’s repatriation program in tandem with the UK government.
So where is the British Airways fleet now?
According to flight records from FlightRadar24.com, the British Airways fleet is now scattered across Europe at the following airports,
|G-XLEA||Teruel (TEV)||November 20th|
|G-XLEB||Teruel (TEV)||November 20th|
|G-XLEC||Teruel (TEV)||December 3rd|
|G-XLED||London Heathrow (LHR)||November 27th|
|G-XLEE||London Heathrow (LHR)||December 4th|
|G-XLEF||Madrid (MAD)||November 11th|
|G-XLEG||Madrid (MAD)||November 12th|
|G-XLEH||London Heathrow (LHR)||December 10th|
|G-XLEI||Madrid (MAD)||November 13th|
|G-XLEJ||London Heathrow (LHR)||November 6th|
|G-XLEK||Madrid (MAD)||December 1st|
|G-XLEL||Madrid (MAD)||November 21st|
The three oldest aircraft that have been sent to Teruel will likely be the last to return to the blue skies. In IAG’s Q2 results, it was revealed that four of British Airways’ Airbus A380s would be sent to long-term storage. This means that the aircraft will likely be joined by a fourth aircraft. It also means that the airline may have aspirations to fly the other A380s sooner rather than later. Otherwise, it would make sense to store these too.
Madrid makes an obvious destination to store aircraft that British Airways wants to keep operationally ready. While in Chateauroux, the aircraft had to fly back to London for maintenance (while not destroying the taxiway). Madrid is home to British Airways’ sister airline, Iberia. If the Iberia mechanics can’t maintain the aircraft, it is easy for British Airways engineers to travel to Madrid with five daily flights between the two airports.
So far, British Airways has not indicated that it intends to retire any Airbus A380 aircraft, unlike several other airlines. However, there is still no set date for the aircraft to resume passenger services.
When did you last see a British Airways Airbus A380? Let us know your experience in the comments!