Retired Hi Fly Airbus A380 Loses Coral Reef Livery

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The sheer size of the Airbus A380 has rendered it one of the most visually-striking airliners of its generation. The most visually-striking livery seen on one in recent years is surely that of charter airline Hi Fly Malta. Its famous ‘Save The Coral Reefs’ paint scheme was seen on the superjumbo for two years. However, following its withdrawal, this aircraft no longer bears these colors.

Hi Fly, Airbus A380, Retirement
‘Save The Coral Reefs’ was one of the most unique liveries to grace our skies in recent memory. Photo: Getty Images

A livery with a message

Hi Fly Malta has a history of unique liveries as a means of raising awareness for ocean pollution. In 2017, it sponsored the ‘Turn The Tide On Plastic’ sailing team, repainting one of its Airbus A330s in support. One side of the aircraft depicted a polluted ocean, with the other being much cleaner. The aircraft functioned as a worldwide campaign against plastic waste in oceans.

Upon taking delivery of its only Airbus A380, 9H-MIP, in July 2018, Hi Fly Malta saw an opportunity to raise further awareness for a similar cause. Partnering with the Mirpuri Foundation, which campaigns against coral reef destruction, the airline stated:

If no action is taken, these beautiful ecosystems will disappear by 2050. With 50% of the world’s corals already gone, action needs to be taken immediately and awareness is the first step.”

Hi Fly, Airbus A380, Usage
The ‘Save The Coral Reefs’ livery was different on each side of 9H-MIP. One side depicted a healthy coral reef, with the other showing what the future might look like if the destruction continues. Photo: Getty Images

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However, with the aircraft since having returned to storage in France, it emerged on Twitter earlier this week that its iconic livery had been stripped. 9H-MIP now sits awaiting an uncertain future. With the second-hand market for A380s virtually non-existent, its next destination may be its last – a scrapyard.

A brief history of 9H-MIP

According to Planespotters.net, Hi Fly Malta acquired 9H-MIP second-hand in July 2018. Singapore Airlines initially took delivery of this aircraft in March 2008, when its registration was 9V-SKC. It eventually withdrew the aircraft in November 2017. The aircraft’s ferry flight from Singapore to Malta on July 4th, 2018 took it via Abu Dhabi.

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Hi Fly Malta applied the iconic ‘Save The Coral Reefs’ livery to the aircraft in the same month of its delivery. Initially configured to seat 471 passengers across three classes, the aircraft found itself repurposed earlier last year. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic first saw the airline utilize 9H-MIP’s large passenger capacity to operate repatriation flights.

Hi Fly Malta Airbus A330-300 Manchester
‘Save The Coral Reefs’ was a unique livery for Hi Fly Malta’s Airbus A380. Its aircraft typically bear this paint scheme, as seen here on an Airbus A330-300 at Manchester. Photo: Ian Gratton via Flickr

However, as passenger demand dwindled, Hi Fly Malta reconfigured it for cargo use. This made it the world’s first dedicated cargo A380. Nonetheless, the airline announced the aircraft’s retirement in November 2020. It made its final flight from Beja, Portugal to Toulouse, France the following month, on December 17th. Now in storage in Toulouse, its future remains uncertain.

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Hi Fly Malta

9H-MIP’s former operator is the Maltese subsidiary of the larger Portuguese charter airline simply known as Hi Fly. According to Planespotters.net, its fleet currently consists of:

  • Airbus A319-100 x2. Average age – 13.6 years.
  • Airbus A321-200 x1. Age – 13.3 years.
  • Airus A330-300 x3. Average age – 7.3 years.
  • Airbus A330-900 x1. Age – 2.0 years.
  • Airbus A340-300 x4. Average age – 21.1 years.

Did you ever fly on Hi Fly Malta’s Airbus A380? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

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