Hi Fly’s A380 Completes First Cargo Flight Since Conversion

Hi Fly’s Airbus A380 is back in the skies. However, this time the aircraft is back with a difference. Hi Fly’s Airbus A380 is currently sporting a temporary cargo configuration, becoming the only superjumbo to fly with such an arrangement.

A380 Hi Fly
Hi Fly’s A380 is completing its first mission since gaining a cargo interior! Photo: Getty Images

The current crisis saw many passenger aircraft grounded around the world. As a result, global cargo capacity dropped almost overnight. However, at the same time, the world was faced with a sudden need to ferry medical supplies such as PPE, including face masks. Many airlines have been using their passenger aircraft as freighters. However, only one airline took this concept to the next level.

Hi Fly’s A380 freighter

Working alongside Lufthansa Technik, Hi Fly went where no other airline dared. While Malaysia Airlines operated a cargo flight using its Airbus A380, the seats were still installed. Hi Fly has ripped out most of the seats in its superjumbo, meaning that there is plenty of space available for light cargo.

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Of course, there is the main cargo hold, which is suitable for carrying containers. However, the main and upper decks of the passenger Airbus A380 were never built with cargo flights in mind. As such, they are unable to take containers. Instead, cardboard boxes must be loaded by hand into designated squares on the deck. Typically this cargo will be confined to relatively light items such as face masks.

Hi Fly, Airbus A380, Cargo A380
Hi Fly has converted its Airbus A380 into a cargo aircraft. Photo: Hi Fly

Superjumbo back in the skies

The Hi Fly Airbus A380 received its cargo configured Airbus A380 back in early July. However, since then, the aircraft has remained at the airline’s base in Beja apart from a couple of training sorties.

Hi Fly, Airbus A380, Cargo A380
The aircraft first flew to Istanbul for a technical stop. Photo: FlightRadar24.com

Despite the extended stay on the ground, it seems as though a customer has now been found for the superjumbo. At 10:36 this morning, the aircraft registered as 9H-MIP departed from Beja (BYJ) at 10:36. The plane made a 3-hour 34-minute hop across to Istanbul, where it landed at 16:10. The flight was the first commercial A380 landing at Istanbul’s new airport since it opened.

Hi Fly, Airbus A380, Cargo A380
The aircraft is now en-route to Kuala Lumpur. Photo: FlightRadar24.com

The aircraft spent a little over two hours on the ground at Istanbul, where it departed at 18:26. At the time of writing, the plane was flying over Iran at 39,000 feet. According to FlightRadar24.com, it is bound for Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. According to the Portuguese Kiosque da Aviacao, the aircraft made a technical stop in Turkey, rather than taking on freight. It was not immediately apparent where the plane would fly next.

It is unclear exactly how long the aircraft will retain its cargo configuration. However, there is currently little demand for such a sizeable wet lease aircraft. Given the current situation, many airlines have grounded their A380s. Simple Flying recently reported that Lufthansa’s A380s are unlikely to return to service.

Have you seen Hi Fly’s Airbus A380? What did you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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