British Airways has once again launched its Airbus A380 maintenance cycle. The cycle sees the British flag carrier periodically moving its giant Airbuses to London Heathrow to undergo time-based maintenance tasks while remaining in light storage in Spain.
For the past 15 months, it has been rare to see an Airbus A380 not belonging to Emirates in the skies. When they were spotted, they were primarily for positioning flights. These were either for storage, maintenance, or retirement. Over the coming weeks, we’ll likely see a flurry of BA A380 flights as the fleet undergoes scheduled maintenance.
G-XLEF goes on a journey
British Airways’ sixth Airbus A380 flew to London for its latest maintenance batch on Friday, according to data from RadarBox.com. The aircraft departed Madrid’s Barajas Airport at 17:12, landing at the airline’s London Heathrow home at 18:00, one hour and 48 minutes later. The flight is the first in a cycle that will see all six in storage in Madrid returning to London for maintenance.
According to data from FlightRadar24.com, the aircraft’s last passenger flight was from San Francisco to London Heathrow on March 26th. It was sent to storage in Chateauroux, France, on April 6th. This is the fourth time that the aircraft has returned to London for maintenance since it was sent to storage,
- July 25th, 2020 – July 28th, 2020
- November 5th, 2020 – November 11th, 2020
- February 23rd, 2021 – March 9th, 2021
- June 15th, 2021 – TBC
According to data from ch-aviation.com, G-XLEF has a current market value of $64.58 million. The aircraft is 7.44 years old, having taken its first flight on January 13th, 2013. As of the end of February, the aircraft had racked up a total of 26,618 flight hours, spread across 2,648 flight cycles. The aircraft features 469 seats across four cabins. 14 first class seats, 97 business class seats, 55 premium economy seats, and 303 economy seats.
Will the Airbus A380 come back?
The fact that British Airways is still injecting money into the Airbus A380 program is a positive indicator for the aircraft. Airlines, such as Lufthansa, have made it clear they don’t see the type coming back and aren’t investing money in flying them around Europe for maintenance. This ties in with comments made by the airline’s CEO, Sean Doyle, who reaffirmed his commitment to the gentle giant recently.
The question seems to be more when the aircraft will return rather than if it will return. While the United Kingdom Government’s current travel rules remain in place, it seems unlikely that the giant will be needed any time soon, given how difficult it is for many to travel.
When President Biden visited the UK earlier this month, discussions were held about resuming travel between the UK and the US. If such a move went ahead, this could perhaps lead to the first A380s leaving storage.
British Airways currently has no Airbus A380 flights scheduled until August 1st, according to aviation data experts Cirium. It’s unlikely the aircraft’s return will be brought forwards, but it could easily be pushed further back.
When do you think British Airways’ Airbus A380 aircraft will be back? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!