Hi Fly, the charter airline headquartered in Lisbon, recently gathered a lot of attention by officially becoming the first ever airline to add a second-hand A380 aircraft to its fleet. Furthermore, Hi Fly is the carrier known for first operating the A380 period. The carrier demonstrated its new A380 aircraft at the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow, where to livery of the plane attracted the eyes of many as it has been painted in support of the Mirpuri Foundation’s “Save the Coral Reefs” campaign. Hi Fly has now announced that it has secured the first airline customer for the lease of its A380 in the face of Thomas Cook.
Hi Fly’s Mysterious A380 Customer
Hi Fly kept its potential first A380 customer undercover for a while, only giving out bits of information and teasing the industry, for example by sharing that the wet lease contract would be signed with a dominant European airline and that it would be employed on long-haul services during the summer season of 2018. Although the released information pointed in many directions and industry experts had many ideas on who the potential airline may be, no one assumes it would be Thomas Cook.
The British charter airline based in Manchester, England serves leisure destinations across the world from its bases in Manchester and Gatwick Airport. Thomas Cook Airlines is an active part of the airline division of the Thomas Cook Group, which consists of Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia, Condor, and Thomas Cook Airlines Balearics.
The Hi Fly Thomas Cook Charter
The Hi Fly A380 Thomas Cook agreement was signed for a short-term lease and was a last minute arrangement due to an unexpected situation Thomas Cook faced in Rhodes Airport in Greece. The Thomas Cook A380 was, in fact, a necessary arrangement as an IT breakdown in Rhodes Airport left passengers with no flying alternative and an extra plane was needed. Thomas Cook Scandinavia reacted to the situation by sending an extra aircraft but that meant that it has no capability of serving its scheduled Larnaca flight. With no other leasing alternative, Thomas Cook requested Hi Fly’s A380.
The last-minute change came in as a benefit for passengers as the originally planned A321 for the route was substituted by Airbus’ A380, which provides an increased seating capacity and more passenger comfort. The flight’s customers totalled to 212 travellers, which left the A380 half empty, providing more than enough space for passengers as the aircraft offers a total seating capacity of 471 seats.
The one-off charter situation was not part of Hi Fly’s long-term plan for its new A380 but it may actually result in something unexpectedly great. On August 1st, 2018 the aircraft will be serving Thomas Cook Scandinavia’s charter flight between Copenhagen, Denmark, and Larnaca, Cyprus.
Uncertainty remains around the future of Hi Fly’s A380. Thomas Cook Scandinavia may show a longer-term interest in leasing the aircraft, although its rental price is much higher than the airline’s current aircraft leasing budget.