British Airways now has no Airbus A380s left in London as it has ferried the last remaining aircraft to Chateauroux. They are not currently needed, given the massive drop in demand tied with the UK’s damaging quarantine policy. It is not known when they will return to the skies.
2020 hasn’t been kind to the Airbus A380. There have been some positive stories such as the first A380 with Emirates’ new premium economy cabin being ready for delivery. However, these positive stories have been outweighed by negative stories, including multiple early aircraft retirements by both Air France and Lufthansa.
Last aircraft in storage
British Airways today ferried its last Airbus A380 down to Chateauroux in France. British Airways use the airport for training, but more lately has become famous as an Airbus A380 parking lot, alongside Teruel and Dubai World Central.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.
The vast majority of the British Airways fleet flew down to Chateauroux back in April. However, while five-sixths of the fleet was sent to storage, two weren’t. G-XLEG and G-XLEH. At the time, G-XLEG was undergoing heavy maintenance in Manila. G-XLEH remained at Heathrow but out of use.
Then, last month the two aircraft swapped places. G-XELH flew to Manila for heavy maintenance, and the pilots flew G-XLEG back to London. Upon arrival, G-XLEG didn’t go straight to storage. Instead, the giant of the skies operated two rotations to Johannesburg to repatriate Brits.
However, it seems as though British Airways has completed its outstanding A380 work, and won’t be keeping one in Heathrow just in case it is needed. The aircraft today departed London Heathrow (LHR) at 08:41. After a short flight of only 58 minutes, the plane touched down in Chateauroux at 10:40.
Why are the world’s A380s in storage?
While the Airbus A380 is a popular aircraft from the passenger perspective, it was already an unpopular aircraft for some airlines. Unfortunately, its size has made it a niche product. While it is perfect for BA on high-density routes, it just wasn’t working out of carriers such as Air France.
However, the current pandemic compounded the issues already facing the aircraft and applied them to every operator. Suddenly airlines were struggling to fill A318s, let alone A380s. Passengers no longer wished to travel. Meanwhile, travel bans were making it hard for those that did.
Except for some repatriation flights, most of the world’s A380 fleet had been grounded by the end of March. Since then, only China Southern has been operating the type in regular passenger service, with the remaining A380 flights taking place for particular purposes such as storage, repatriation, or pilot currency.
It is unclear when the A380 will be back, but it certainly isn’t dead yet. Emirates believes that the type still has a place in its future. Additionally, Simple Flying currently understands that British Airways intends to keep the Airbus A380.
Have you missed seeing the Airbus A380 in the skies over London? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!