British Airways has signaled that the Airbus A380 fleet isn’t dead yet, with all of the aircraft potentially coming back into service. Lufthansa Technik today revealed that the airline had extended its maintenance contract for all 12 of its aircraft for at least five years from August 2022.
We’ve been suspecting that British Airways would bring its fleet of Airbus A380 aircraft back to service for a while now. While no firm plans have been revealed, the airline has dropped little hints from the start of the type’s grounding, with CEO Sean Doyle saying that the plane would be back earlier this year.
Extending the maintenance contract
British Airways completes a lot of its Airbus A380 maintenance at its London Heathrow home. This is why the airline has been shuffling the fleet back and forth from France and Spain throughout its grounding. However, for the really heavy maintenance, the jets fly to rival airline Lufthansa’s maintenance base in Manila, The Philippines.
Today Lufthansa Technik revealed that British Airways had extended its maintenance contract with the organization for at least five years from August 2022. According to Lufthansa Technik, the agreement contains 12-year checks for the aircraft. ch-aviation.com lists the fleet as aged between 5.47 years and 8.74 years.
Commenting on the agreement, British Airways’ Technical Director, Dave Exon, said,
“Safety is at the heart of everything we do and we’re delighted to extend our existing A380 base maintenance contract with Lufthansa Technik as a result of the continued excellent standard of service provided by Lufthansa Technik Philippines. This agreement ensures that our A380 aircraft have secured slots for the foreseeable future.”
Great news for the giant of the skies
The news that the maintenance contract has been signed until at least August 2027 is excellent news for the giant of the skies in more ways than one. Firstly, it shows that British Airways believes in the future of the Airbus A380.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.
You could argue that the airline wants to ensure it will be able to access maintenance for the aircraft just in case, but with airlines retiring the giant left, right, and center, maintenance slots are likely to be far from rare. Instead, it shows that the airline believes it will continue flying the plane. If there were reasonable doubt about whether the aircraft would return to the skies, it wouldn’t make sense to lock in lengthy contracts.
Secondly, it shows that the airline is likely planning to bring back its entire fleet of Airbus A380 aircraft. In July, IAG said that it would temporarily ground four A380s before sending three A380s to Teruel in Spain later in the year. There had been fears that these A380s may not return to service in the event of the airline opting for a smaller fleet.
The Lufthansa Technik statement makes it explicitly clear that the agreement covers all 12 aircraft. Again, if decisions had already been made that a handful of planes were unlikely to return to service, it wouldn’t make sense for the agreement to cover all 12.
When will the Airbus A380 return to the skies?
Of course, it remains unclear exactly when the Airbus A380 will return to the skies. It seems as though British Airways won’t fly the jet before it can fill it. As such, we’ve seen the airline push back the scheduled return to service each month.
According to aviation data experts Cirium, The schedule currently suggests that the A380 will return to the skies on October 31st when the IATA winter 21/22 schedule kicks in. Flights are initially scheduled to,
- Washington-Dulles, United States (IAD)
- Johannesburg, South Africa (JNB)
- Los Angeles International, United States (LAX)
- Miami, United States (MIA)
- San Francisco, United States (SFO)
Given that 80% of these destinations are in the US, the airline is unlikely to move ahead unless the travel ban is dropped in both directions. While British Airways lists the operating aircraft as the Airbus A380, it would be wise to wait for confirmation before assuming the giant will operate a specific flight.
Are you excited to see British Airways commit to the future of the Airbus A380? Let us know what you think and why in the comments down below!