British Airways will send half of its Airbus A380 fleet to Châteauroux, an aircraft graveyard in France, this week. Last week the airline ferried five 747s to a Spanish aircraft graveyard as their capacity is currently unneeded.
March was an interesting month for the aviation industry with demand being brought to its knees across the globe. In fact, towards the end of last week, the number of daily passenger flights had fallen a staggering 75%. In order to cope with this huge decrease in demand, British Airways is sending some of its larger aircraft on holiday.
Six A380s going to France
Six of British Airways’ Airbus A380s are going to be heading to France for an extended break from service. It is currently unconfirmed how long the aircraft will remain on the other side of the English Channel.
Four aircraft will fly to Châteauroux in the center of France today. Two more will follow tomorrow. This will leave British Airways with just five Airbus A380 aircraft at London Heathrow. The final aircraft is currently with Lufthansa Technik in Manilla undergoing heavy maintenance. Last year we got up close and personal with G-XLED while it underwent light maintenance at Heathrow.
Simple Flying contacted British Airways. An airline spokesperson declined to comment.
Which aircraft are heading to France?
Simple Flying understands that six Airbus A380s will fly to Châteauroux over the course of two days. These aircraft are:
- G-XLEA – The oldest British Airways Airbus A380, this aircraft is expected to head south today. At seven years old, this aircraft’s last passenger flight was on the 23rd of March from Johannesburg.
- G-XLEC – Another seven-year-old Airbus A380, and the third received by British Airways. Its last passenger flight was from Singapore on the 23rd of March. The aircraft is already en-route to Châteauroux as BA9151.
- G-XLEF – This six-year-old Airbus A380 is also currently en-route to Châteauroux as BA9152. Its last flight with passengers was from San Francisco on the 26th of March.
- G-XLEI – This Airbus A380 is only five-years-old. Its last passenger flight was from Los Angeles on the 26th of March. This A380 is also due to fly to Châteauroux today.
- G-XLEJ – The first aircraft due to fly to Châteauroux tomorrow, this A380 last flew passengers on the 27th of March from Los Angeles. It is four years old.
- G-XLEL – Last but not least, this A380 is the airline’s youngest at four-years-old. Its last passenger flight was on the 25th of March from Johannesburg. This aircraft is also due to head to France tomorrow.
What will happen to these aircraft?
It is unclear what the fate of these aircraft will be, given the rapidly evolving situation. Châteauroux is home to a number of companies that deal with end of life aircraft recycling. British Airways’ first Airbus A350 even stopped off there for training on its delivery flight.
British Airways is one of the few airlines that has really benefitted from the large capacity of the Airbus A380 given the slot constraints at London Heathrow. In fact, just over a year ago IAG CEO Willie Walsh was saying that he would even buy more A380s if the price was right.
Unfortunately, other airlines such as Air France and Singapore Airlines had already begun to retire the giant of the skies before the current crisis. However, hopefully, British Airways’ aircraft won’t follow suit too soon.
What do you make of the Airbus A380s being flown for storage? What’s your favorite memory of a British Airways Airbus A380? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.