British Airways A380 Returns To The Skies For South Africa Repatriation

British Airways will today utilize one of its Airbus A380 aircraft for passengers for the first time since March 29th. The aircraft is operating a repatriation flight from Johannesburg, part of a final push to bring British citizens back from South Africa.

British Airways, Airbus A380, Johannesburg
Most of the British Airways Airbus A380 fleet is currently stored in Chateauroux, France. Photo: Getty Images

The Airbus A380 has become a rare sight in the skies of the world. Given the current crisis that has knocked the aviation industry to its knees, the aircraft has become unfavorable due to how difficult it is to fill. This is especially true given the current lack of demand tied with government travel bans.

South African repatriation

At 22:44 last night, those living near Heathrow may have been surprised to see a British Airways Airbus A380 take to the skies. G-XLEG departed London and began to fly south through France. The giant aircraft then crossed into Spain, Algeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Zambia, Nambia, and Botswana, before entering South African airspace.

Having passed Gaborone near South Africa’s border with Botswana, the Airbus A380 began its descent from 41,000 feet. It touched down in Johannesburg, South Africa, at 10:03 this morning, following a 10-hour and 20-minute flight.

British Airways, Airbus A380, Johannesburg
The flight took 10-hours and 20-minutes. Photo:

A mostly grounded fleet

The majority of the British Airways Airbus A380 fleet has been grounded for almost two months. Ten of the 12 aircraft are currently resting their wings in Chateauroux, France. These aircraft are now in long-term storage at the current time. However, unlike other airlines, Simple Flying believes that British Airways currently has no plans for early Airbus A380 retirement.

While most of the British Airways fleet is currently in Chateauroux, two aircraft have not yet migrated south for storage. We recently saw a British Airways Airbus A380 registered as G-XLEH fly out to Manila for heavy maintenance. The crew brought back G-XLEG, which had just undergone maintenance on May 25th.

Future flights?

According to the United Kingdom Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), repatriation flights from South Africa run until June 4th, meaning that the A380 could be used for another rotation to repatriate Brits yet.

British Airways, Airbus A380, Johannesburg
A British Airways Airbus A380 today flew passengers for the first time in two months. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

However, it’s fate beyond this date is unconfirmed. Simple Flying believes that the aircraft will be ferried down to Chateauroux to join its siblings. Repatriation flights have been mainly completed now, and demand is expected to take some time to return.

The FCO advises that it doesn’t have any plans to bring brits home beyond June 4th. Repatriation flights from Johannesburg to London are priced at £668.55. However, tickets may now be sold out. The FCO also states:

“Commercial international passenger flights are unlikely to be permitted by the South African government for some time.”

When did you last fly on a British Airways Airbus A380? Let us know about your experience in the comments!