British Airways is returning an Airbus A380 to its London Heathrow home. The airline’s Airbus A380 fleet has been primarily grounded at Chateauroux in France since April. Today’s A380 flight is the first for BA since G-XLEH flew to the French airport over a month ago.
Many in the aviation industry believe that the current pandemic may mean the end of the Airbus A380. After all, Airbus has pulled the plug on new orders, and almost every carrier grounded the type. Air France even retired it. However, recent hints seem to suggest that things could be on the up for the giant of the skies.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.
Back to Heathrow
Today a British Airways Airbus A380 took to the skies once more. It marks the first flight for this particular aircraft since it flew to Chateauroux on April 6th. A British Airways spokesperson told Simple Flying that the plane was headed for its London Heathrow home to undergo maintenance.
In December, we were lucky enough to go behind the scenes to see what goes into maintaining a British Airways Airbus A380. You can read the first of a three-article series on the topic here.
The A380, registered as G-XLEI, is just five years old. It was the ninth giant delivered to the British Flag carrier and had clocked 23,160 hours of flight time, equivalent to 2.64 years, as of January 22nd. G-XLEI took off from Chateauroux as BA9176 at around 12:55 local time.
Good news for the A380 fleet
Today’s flight to Heathrow for maintenance broadly indicates good things for British Airways Airbus A380 fleet. Two British Airways A380s are now undergoing maintenance procedures. G-XLEH is currently in Manila undergoing heavy maintenance, a process that costs a significant sum of money.
The key theme here is that to ferry A380s around and maintain them costs money. British Airways is currently in a period of consultation around how to cut costs and has even resorted to selling portions of its art collection to raise funds.
If there were a reasonable chance that British Airways wouldn’t return the aircraft to service, it wouldn’t make sense to keep spending serious money to maintain its fleet. Especially if these funds could be used elsewhere in the business, after all, this is the exact reason that led to Air France withdrawing its entire Airbus A380 fleet two years early.
Simple Flying believes that G-XLEI will return to Chateauroux once its maintenance has been completed. However, we are also led to believe that British Airways will fly the Airbus A380 once more.
The aircraft fits perfectly into the slot constrained environment of Heathrow Airport, as it allows British Airways to condense two smaller aircraft. This, in turn, allows the airline to free up another slot for an alternate route.
Are you pleased to see British Airways’ Airbus A380 back in the skies? Let us know your thoughts and why in the comments!