Hi Fly’s sole A380 returned to service this week, flying from Beja, Portugal to Seoul Incheon Airport on its way to Shanghai. While almost any A380 flight is notable nowadays, Hi Fly is the only second-hand operator of the superjumbo and is currently using the plane as a freighter. So what is the aircraft doing in Seoul? Let’s find out.
Back in action
This week, we saw Hi Fly’s A380, registered 9H-MIP, return to the skies once again for one of its last missions before retirement. According to FlightRadar24.com, the plane took off from its home in Beja, Portugal, bound for Seoul Incheon International Airport on Wednesday (9th December).
The aircraft departed at 17:07 PM UTC, flying just over 12 and a half hours to Seoul and landing at 06:02 AM UTC (the next day). The plane spent almost a day on the ground at Incheon, only beginning its next journey at 01:10 AM UTC (11th December).
On its next flight, the A380 made the short hop down to Shanghai Pudong International Airport. The plane departed Seoul at 01:10 AM and reached Shanghai at 03:27 AM UTC, with actual flight time being just over one and a half hours. So why was the aircraft there?
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Ferrying medical supplies
Hi Fly is currently using its A380 as a converted freighter aircraft. By removing the former Singapore Airlines seats, the plane can carry much more valuable cargo than before. According to Aeronews on Facebook, the plane is carrying vital medical supplies on its journey. The plane will depart Shanghai for Hamburg later today and likely return home to its base in Beja afterward.
The flight to Seoul was actually a stop for crew rest time, as required by safety rules. While most commercial flights have an extra set of crew to take over during long flights, Hi Fly opted to make a quick stop (and potentially pick up or drop off some cargo too) and give its single crew a day of rest.
Last few flights
Hi Fly is planning to retire its only A380 by the end of the year, making it the superjumbo’s shortest operator. With less than three weeks to go for the aircraft, this flight could one of, or perhaps even the last flight it undertakes in its 14-year history.
With the market for second-hand (or third-hand in this case) non-existent, this plane will likely be scrapped in the coming month. Although, if you have a few hundred thousand dollars lying around, you could buy or lease one of these A380s online!
An analysis by Simple Flying found that Hi Fly’s A380 did find some use in the last two years, the plane was only used sparingly, however. For this reason, Hi Fly opted to retire the plane at the end of its three-year lease.