Wet lease carrier Hi Fly today revealed that its only Airbus A380 would undertake its final flight tomorrow. During its time with Hi Fly, the aircraft initially saw plenty of use. More recently, however, the aircraft has mostly sat idle as its vast capacity was just not needed with the global passenger downturn.
Some see the A380 as a marvel of engineering. However, it is also an aircraft that came after its time. As airlines look towards a more fuel-efficient future, many have been retired, with operators disinterested in buying them second-hand. Hi Fly was the one exception to this trend, becoming the first, and thus far, the only airline to operate a second-hand A380.
Farewell to the “king of the skies”
Tomorrow Hi Fly will wave farewell to the Airbus A380 as its only example, 9H-MIP, will fly to Toulouse. The aircraft is set to depart Beja at 10:30 UTC, carrying the flight number HFM380. It was not immediately clear what the aircraft’s fate would be, although the second-hand A380 market is virtually non-existent.
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As a wet lease operator, Hi Fly always operated the A380 on behalf of other entities including Norwegian, and Thomas Cook before its collapse. As a result, the aircraft operated a considerable range of routes. In its time with Hi Fly, 9H-MIP flew to 53 airports located in 33 countries. It was the first A380 ever to land at 12 airports, including Cairo and Buenos Aires.
The aircraft was painted with a special livery known as “save the coral reefs.” The aircraft was painted in a dark blue with images of a dead coral reef on the starboard side. Over on the aircraft’s port side was a light blue motive, with a healthy coral reef.
An underutilized plane
While Hi Fly’s A380 was a hit among avgeeks and spotters, it wasn’t such a hit with airlines. A recent analysis conducted by Simple Flying on data provided by FlightRadar24.com showed that the giant aircraft had spent most of its time with Hi Fly grounded. This was except for a flurry of bookings when it was first delivered and another flurry between June and October 2019.
Indeed, since the start of the current aviation downturn, no passenger airlines have needed to call upon the aircraft. After all, every airline had surplus aircraft due to fleets being grounded.
This saw Hi Fly remarketing its giant of the skies as a freighter aircraft with all of the seats removed. The aircraft was only really suitable for light large volume loads such as face masks. As such, even in its new cargo configuration, the aircraft only saw a handful of trips. Most recently, it completed two rotations from China to Hamburg via Seoul carrying personal protective equipment.
Have you seen or flown on Hi Fly’s Airbus A380? Let us know your experience in the comments!