British Airways May Buy Second Hand A380’s To Replace Their 747’s

With the Airbus A380 set to retire in 2021, many have been saddened by the upcoming end of both the 747 and the A380 in passenger use around the world.

But in an ironic twist of fate, it seems British Airways plans on snapping up as many A380s as possible to fuel their 747 replacement.

BOAC 747
Two British Airways 747 aircraft, one with special BOAC retro livery. The aircraft will stay in its retro livery until it is retired in 2023. Photo: Tom Boon/Simple Flying

What are the details?

Whilst the last A380 will roll off the production line in 2021, the very first A380s are starting to be retired right now. Singapore recently retired four back to their leaseholder, one of which ended up as the new Hi Fly A380, two for spare parts (their engines are worth a fortune) and the last one vanished.

This means there is coming oversupply of second-hand A380 aircraft entering the market (Six Air France A380s are expected to be retired late this year).

News that could be a real boon for British Airways, who are in the midst of retiring their 747 fleet. By replacing their 747 aircraft with A380 aircraft until their newer jets come online in 2022 (18 Airbus A350-1000s, and 12 Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners) British Airways can ensure a smooth transition. And you can bet that these A380 aircraft will be way cheaper than renting/wet-leasing or extending the lifespan of the 747s.

British Airways
A British Airways A380 takes off.

Why the A380?

But why would British Airways want the A380 over say, a Boeing 777-300ER? What unique challenges does British Airways have that an A380 would useful?

The first is British Airways’ hub airport, London Heathrow. Heathrow is one of the busiest airports in the world, and as such, has no free slots for aircraft to land. The only way for an airline to increase capacity or maintain their capacity is a bigger aircraft like the A380. By using an A380 over a smaller aircraft, British Airways has more tickets to sell and their cost per seat would not go down.

Additionally, British Airways already has 12 A380s in the fleet in service and has plenty of experience in utilizing the aircraft. They would not have to train new pilots, acquire new logistics or even find a new food supplier. Their current A380 infrastructure network could be expanded as each A380 is delivered.

ritish Airways A380 Business class
British Airways A380 Business class

Plus, if British Airways starts to fight more competitively on routes against their rival Virgin Atlantic, the A380 might be their secret weapon. They might even acquire the extra capacity to simply deprive Virgin of the chance, who originally had the plane on order years ago.

Lastly, if British Airways were to acquire some of the more premium versions of the A380, say for example the ones with the shower on board, that could be a killer advantage over any competition.

What do you think of this plan? Let us know in the comments.