British Airways Airbus A380 Departs Madrid For Maintenance

A British Airways A380 is today flying from Madrid to London Heathrow. Simple Flying understands that the aircraft is being flown back to its London home as part of a program of regular maintenance. This is the first time the aircraft has flown since November.

British Airways, Airbus A380, Maintenance
British Airways appears to be repeating its cycle of sending its A380s back to Heathrow for periodic maintenance. Photo: British Airways

For much of the past year, British Airways’ fleet of Airbus A380s has been stored at various locations worldwide. While some airlines have sent most of their A380s to deep storage, British Airways has been keeping the planes in a light-storage state, with regular maintenance being undertaken.

Heading back to London

Earlier today G-XLEF, popped up on’s live map. However, it very quickly became clear that the aircraft wasn’t merely being powered on. At around 16:05, the aircraft began to taxi, taking off from Madrid’s Runway 36L at 16:21. The aircraft continued flying north to the Bay of Biscay. It then passed over Brittany on its way to London Heathrow.

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Before British Airways grounded the Airbus A380 fleet in late March, G-XLEF was regularly flying for bathe airline, frequenting the likes of Johannesburg, Singapore,  and Hong Kong. Its last passenger flight saw the aircraft operate flight BA286 from San Francisco to London Heathrow 11 months ago on March 26th.

British Airways, Airbus A380, Maintenance
G-XLEF took 1:44 to fly from Madrid to London Heathrow as BA9179. Photo:

Since then, the aircraft’s movements have been minimal. On April 6th, the aircraft flew to long-term storage in Chateauroux, France. The aircraft was back in London from July 25th to 28th, returning again to Heathrow on November 5th. On November 11th, the aircraft flew to Madrid, where it had been resting its wings since.

Other aircraft to follow?

The Airbus A380 will now likely remain in London Heathrow for several days while it undergoes regularly scheduled maintenance. If the airline’s typical cycle is followed, other aircraft will follow XLEF to maintenance one at a time. You can read what goes into maintaining the giant of the skies in our three-part series here.

Previously such movements have incorporated the entire fleet while the airline stored it at Chateauroux in France. However, this likely won’t be the case this time. The airline’s first three A380s, XLEA-XLEC, are currently in Teruel. Simple Flying understands from previous IAG comments that these aircraft are now in a state of long-term storage, meaning the giants won’t require such maintenance.

British Airways, Airbus A380, Maintenance
Three of the airlines’ A380s are in long-term storage in Teruel, while three more were flown out to Doha. Photo: British Airways

G-XLED, G-XLEE, and G-XLEJ are all in Doha, home to Qatar Airways who owns part of British Airways’ parent company. Given that Qatar Airways has its own Airbus A380 mechanics and the distance from Doha to London, it wouldn’t make sense for these aircraft to return for maintenance. This leaves five Airbus A380s in Madrid, which will all likely follow G-XLEF once it returns.

When was the last time that you flew on a British Airways Airbus A380? Let us know how you found the experience in the comments!