*Update – 09/09/21 @ 07:50 UTC: Added detail on potential airframe*
The first A380 stored at the Spanish airport of Teruel is set to depart at the end of this week. This will be the first Airbus superjumbo to leave the facility since the start of the pandemic, signaling a level of recovery in aviation. Currently home to 22 of the double-decker aircraft, Teruel will also see a second Airbus A380 leave before the end of the year.
First A380 to fly out of Teruel
Having been home to a variety of Airbus superjumbos since the start of the pandemic, Teruel is gearing up for the first of its adopted aircraft to leave. While the team at the airport has been hard at work taking care of the giant aircraft, one airline is ready to bring its plane back to the flock.
According to Spanish outlet Heraldo, the airport has filed for an A380 departure at the end of the week. The outlet quoted the airport director, Alejandro Ibrahim, as saying,
“To see the A380 plane take off and fly again from Teruel is great news and a milestone at the airport in relation to the recovery of air traffic, which was greatly affected on long-haul flights due to COVID-19.”
Not only that, but the airport will see another A380 leaving storage before the end of the year. These will be the first A380s to depart from Teruel since the start of the pandemic, which has seen some 22 giant jumbos parked and stored at the airport.
The return of the A380 is seen as a mark of the recovery of aviation, and it’s not just Teruel that is seeing some superjumbo action. Singapore Airlines has so far taken three of its giant jumbos out of storage in Alice Springs this year, positioning them back at Changi. They will hopefully soon be scheduled into rotation.
Of course, it’s not all good news for the double-decker jumbo. Lufthansa is gearing up to send its final A380 to Teruel for storage later this month, with the flight scheduled in for September 14th. This will take the number of Lufthansa A380s at Teruel up to the full 14, with the chances of reactivation pegged at slim to none.
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So whose A380 is it?
Since early 2020, Teruel has been home to A380s from a variety of airlines. The first to arrive were two Air France A380s, soon followed by members from Lufthansa and British Airways. This April, the fleet got a bit more diverse with the addition of an Etihad A380, soon to be followed by another five.
Of the 22 A380s at the airport, two are in Air France livery. The airline very publicly retired the type from its fleet right at the start of the pandemic, and these two are unlikely to fly again. 13 belong to Lufthansa, soon to be 14. At a recent earnings call, the airline’s CEO said the A380 would ‘obviously’ not be coming back, so it’s unlikely to be any of these. And Etihad, while not entirely ruling out the A380, has been very clear that it will not return to the fleet any time soon.
That leaves just one operator – British Airways. Outside of Dubai, British Airways has been one of the most obviously committed A380 owners in the world. It has never made any noises about early retirement of the type, despite waving goodbye to its other quadjets. It has put the fleet into a strict maintenance rotation, keeping the aircraft in top shape, ready to return to service.
Although the type has been removed from the schedule until late March 2022, the airline has remained openly devoted to bringing the type back, eventually. Just this month, it was revealed that the maintenance contract with Lufthansa Technik for the A380s had been extended for another five years, demonstrating the airline’s dedication to bringing it back into service.
Twitter informer M Zulqarnain B believes the airframe to be G-XLEA. The aircraft is set to leave today (Thursday September 9th).
The aircraft now expects to arrive on Thursday
09 SEP 21
BA9177E A388 G-XLEA 1250L TEV – LHR
Last minute changes remain likely
— M Zulqarnain B (@MZulqarnainBut1) September 7, 2021
With two set to leave Teruel before the end of the year, this bodes very well for the type staying on the schedules for March 2022. Operating out of a slot-constrained hub like London Heathrow on some of the most high-demand routes in the world means the A380 still makes sense for BA, and will likely remain a key part of the fleet for some years to come.