Following just over two years of operating the aircraft, Hi Fly has bid farewell to its only Airbus A380. The airline decided to end its lease as the COVID-19 crisis meant it was impossible to find customers to book the aircraft.
Despite Airbus’ attempts to stimulate an active second-hand market for the Airbus A380, such ambitions have yet to take off. The Dr. Peters Group is currently attempting to find homes for four of its former Air France A380s. Indeed, to date, Hi Fly is the only customer to have flown a second-hand A380.
Today was the final flight of 9H-MIP for Hi Fly as the airline returned the aircraft to Toulouse. The aircraft first flew to Hi Fly’s Beja home on July 23rd, 2018, after an appearance at the Farnborough Air Show. The aircraft had been leased from Doric Aviation, the same company that owned it when Singapore Airlines operated it from new.
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Typically, when 9H-MIP has flown between Beja and Toulouse, the flight time clocks between 1:20-1:30 hours. This was not the case with today’s final flight. In honor of its farewell, Hi Fly flew the aircraft out over the Atlantic Ocean and then proceeded to draw a giant lopsided heart in the sky. It took the airline 25 minutes to draw the heart. With an overflight of both Beja and Toulouse, the total flight time came in at three hours and nine minutes.
In November 2019, El Al painted the outline of a Boeing 747 in the sky during its final passenger flight of the type.
No second-hand A380 need
The Airbus A380’s enormous size is its main selling point. It is also the aircraft’s downfall. This was already apparent before the COVID-19 crisis, with Air France earmarking the type’s retirement. Since then, many more giants of the skies have been grounded, with Emirates and China Southern being the type’s only regular operators.
At one point, there had been talk of Hi Fly taking on a second Airbus A380. In July 2019, the airline told Simple Flying in an exclusive interview,
“Our plan is to operate the A380 for a full fiscal year before deciding when to introduce the next one, most probably there will be a second unit arriving next year. We believe additional A380 aircraft will join our fleet very soon.”
The airline ultimately pinned the aircraft’s death on the COVID-19 crisis. An analysis of the aircraft’s usage by Simple Flying with data from FlightRadar24.com showed that the aircraft had spent the vast majority of its time with Hi Fly not flying, even before the pandemic. Since the pandemic entered full swing, the airline’s A380 flights became rare, with Hi Fly trying to angle it as a preighter.
Will you miss Hi Fly’s Airbus A380? Was it the right decision to return the aircraft? Let us know what you think in the comments!