Simple Flying recently caught up with CEO and chairman of Hi Fly, Dr. Paulo Mirpuri, to find out what the airline thinks of its A380. The specialist wet lease airline regularly comes under fire for investing in an unpopular plane, but the truth is actually quite far from this perception.
The un-leasable plane
Hi Fly gets a lot of stick for having an A380 ready to wet lease. The company acquired the 10 year old aircraft in 2018 after Singapore Airlines decided against renewing the lease. Having given it a grand new look, Hi Fly has been offering it out for hire ever since.
Plenty of onlookers, analysts and armchair critics openly condemn the airline for investing in the giant jumbo. With many airlines phasing out the A380, most can’t believe that there is even a market for such a large plane, particularly on an ad hoc basis.
However, in a recent interview with Simple Flying, Hi Fly’s CEO, Dr. Paulo Mirpuri, told us that the demand for the A380 actually far outstrips supply, with the airline receiving around 30 requests a day for the plane. So, why don’t we see it in the skies more often?
The A380 is in high demand
Dr. Mirpuri describes the A380 as ‘remarkable’, and sings its praises in terms of reliability and sophistication of the technology on board. Indeed, he’s clearly a massive fan of the type, having bequeathed three letters of his surname to the registration of the aircraft, 9H-MIP.
But why is demand so low for the type? Dr. Mirpuri told us that, actually, it’s not. He said,
“In terms of demand, we receive on a daily basis around 30 requests for the aircraft.”
He went on to explain why we don’t see the aircraft busy at work more often, saying,
“However, we face one problem, which is, the accessibility of the aircraft to a number of airports. So, unfortunately, we have to reject the majority of the requests, and we have to send alternative aircraft even if the client wants initially the Airbus 380 and that is because the airport or the city selected is not compatible with the A380 operations.”
Taking a look at the flight data for 9H-MIP, the aircraft is certainly not in demand right now. Apart from a trip to Jeddah and back this week, the aircraft has not worked at all since October. But, this is the quiet season, so likely the airline would expect to have low demand for its aircraft.
Prior to the 7th of October, however, the aircraft has been in almost constant use right through since late May last year. And it sounds like there would have been many more jobs for it too, if only the infrastructure was in place. The un-leasable plane is proving its worth!
Everyone loves the A380
Dr. Mirpuri was highly complimentary about the A380, telling us,
“We love the aircraft, the passengers love the aircraft, the clients love the aircraft … It is important that we see the airport investing in the infrastructure to welcome the aircraft.”
Indeed, Hi Fly has taken the A380 to places that it’s never been before. Over the course of 2019, it made appearances in Madagascar, Reunion Island, London Stansted, Caracas and more. The airline is keen to prove that the A380 can be a workable prospect, even where the infrastructure isn’t ideal.
In many of these cases, they’ve had to get creative with the boarding process, using the lower doors only for both passengers and catering carts entering the plane. Dr. Mirpuri was clear that this is far from ideal, and that he’d rather see more airports investing in the right facilities for the A380. He said,
“It would be a pity that such a remarkable aircraft is not able to operate on a much wider basis, because it is capable and Hi Fly has been able to demonstrate that the aircraft can go into many more airports.”
What do you think? Should more airports be ready to accept the A380? Let us know in the comments.