British Airways’ 1st A380 Flies To Madrid After Heavy Maintenance

Excitement is growing when it comes to the British Airways Airbus A380 fleet. After over a year on the ground, it is now less than two weeks until the aircraft will return to the skies above Europe. As part of the preparations, British Airways has just completed its heavy maintenance on its oldest A380, G-XLEA.

British Airways, Airbus A380, March 2022
G-XLEA has returned from some TLC in the Philippines. Photo: Airbus

It’s hard to believe that The A380 is making a comeback after such a terrible start to the year. Alongside British Airways, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines will be joining Emirates in flying this giant of the skies to London over the next two months.

G-XLEA is ready

It looks like G-XLEA, the oldest Airbus A380 in the British Airways fleet, is ready to return to action. In early September, the jet became the first to fly out of the Teruel Airport storage facility since the pandemic began. The plane flew to Manila for a little TLC after so long in storage.

You may be wondering why British Airways flew an A380 all the way to Manila when it has A380 engineers based in London. The British flag has a contract with Lufthansa Technik to complete the most significant services required by the aircraft. G-XLEK flew out to replace G-XLEA in maintenance on Saturday.

British Airways, Airbus A380, Interior
G-XLEA was undergoing maintenance at Lufthansa Technik. Photo: British Airways

Having rested in the Philippines, the same crew brought G-XLEA back, leaving Manila at 03:30 this morning. After 15 hours in the air, the jet touched down in Madrid at 12:34, having overflow Frankfurt at 43,000 feet on the way. According to, G-XLEA is now 8.97 years old. The jet is worth $45 million, having completed 28,107 flight hours until July 31st.

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Good news for the entire A380 fleet

British Airways will initially only return to the skies with a handful of its giant Airbus A380 aircraft, but signs exhibitors by the airline suggest that the entire fleet will remain with the airline. For example, G-XLEA would be the obvious choice to retire, being the oldest aircraft and needing a significant service. Why pay for costly maintenance if you don’t intend to keep it around?

The airline also recently extended its maintenance contract with Lufthansa Technik regarding the fleet. The contact has been extended until at least 2027, covering all 12 aircraft, a good sign for those yet to return to the skies.

British Airways’ 1st A380 Flies To Madrid After Heavy Maintenance
Flights to Los Angeles, Miami, and Dubai will start in December. Photo: British Airways

Back flying in just two weeks

It won’t be long before the British Airways A380 becomes a regular sight in the skies above London once again. Remember we mentioned that G-XLEA had overflow Frankfurt earlier? In under two weeks, on November 8th, the giant of the skies will begin flying between Frankfurt, London Heathrow, and Madrid. The airline needs to retrain the crew on the aircraft before it launches into long-haul missions once more. From early December, the jet will resume long-haul flights to Dubai, Miami, and Los Angeles.

Are you excited about the return of the Airbus A380? Let us know in the comments!