Over the past month, British Airways has been flying its fleet of Airbus A380s to London Heathrow one-by-one. The flights were undertaken to take the aircraft for maintenance visits. Now, the entire fleet has been back to its London Heathrow home.
Parking an aircraft isn’t as simple as finding space at an airport and then leaving it until it’s needed. Given their complex nature, planes must be maintained during their time parked, or undergo preparations for an extended period of grounding. Lufthansa recently explained the differences to Simple Flying.
Fleet maintenance is good news
One by one, British Airways has been bringing its Airbus A380 aircraft to London for maintenance. When one returned to Chateauroux, another flew to London. Now the final plane, G-XLEE, has made the journey to London. The flight took place earlier today.
The fact that British Airways is maintaining its fleet is good news. It means that the airline sees the aircraft type as a serious part of its fleet in the coming years. If the airline wasn’t anticipating using the giant of the skies for some time, or at least for over a year, it would send them to deep storage.
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The fact that British Airways is spending money maintaining its Airbus A380 fleet shows that it is not seriously entertaining the possibility of scrapping the type any time soon. Since the current pandemic started, two aircraft have flown to Manilla for heavy maintenance.
When will the Airbus A380 fleet be back?
Unfortunately, asking when the Airbus A380 fleet will be back is like asking how long is a piece of string. While the decision-makers at British Airways may have an idea, nobody else knows.
The return of the aircraft will depend on demand. As the largest aircraft in the British Airways fleet, it will likely be the last to return. Additionally, while the recovery on short-haul routes within Europe is going well, many of the high-density international routes where the A380 proves its worth for British Airways in the past are currently still suspended.
Take Los Angeles, for example. Most in Europe are currently banned from traveling to the US, while most in the US are also banned from traveling to Europe. As such, demand is down by such a degree that smaller aircraft are sufficient for the route.
While it may not be back tomorrow, it seems relatively sure that the Airbus A380 will return to the British Airways fleet. With an average age of just 5.8 years, it would be a surprise to see it scrapped. The airline has found the perfect niche for the aircraft at London Heathrow Airport. During regular times, it allows the airline to condense two popular flights down to one, thus opening a slot pair for another route.
Until they return to service, the Airbus A380 fleet will likely remain in Chateauroux. In the recent IAG Q3 results presentation, it was indicated that four of the giants might end up going to storage in the meantime.
Have you seen the British Airways A380 on one of its London maintenance flights? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!