With the end of the A380 program, airline HiFly is looking to snap up some bargain-priced A380s as they are retired.
The wet-lease airline specializes in renting out large planes for other airlines that desperately need capacity on routes, and the A380 has proven to be one of the most popular aircraft in their fleet.
What are the details?
Last year, wet-lease airline Hi Fly acquired an ex-Singapore A380.
For those who don’t know, a wet-lease is the same as a normal lease (as you would lease a rental car), but coming with its own crew, food, fuel, services and more. In fact, as Hi Fly has its own IATA certificate, you don’t even need to be an airline to rent their aircraft and start flying your own routes.
Their new A380 proved to be a hit, finding service for Thomas Cook for their holiday destinations, Norwegian Airlines to fill in capacity issues due to their 787 Dreamliners, and Air Austral to the romantic French state of Réunion.
The Hi Fly A380 has proven so popular that it’s rumored to be booked from March till October (the entire summer season) by one client.
Why does Hi Fly want more A380s?
What makes the A380 so perfect for wet-lease airlines and why would Hi Fly want more?
Firstly, the capacity. The A380 can sit around 500-800 passengers depending on configuration and is the largest passenger aircraft operating to date. If an airline needs some extra capacity in a flash, such as moving a significant number of delayed passengers (like in the case with Norwegian) or if there is an event taking place (like the Islamic Pilgrimage flown by Malaysian), then the A380 can’t be beaten.
Additionally, luxury. Every A380 on the market has a full luxury fit-out, with some having first-class private suites and others including showers and bars. For a smaller airline that does not feature these items, such as a low-cost carrier, the sudden ability to upgrade VIP passengers, or charter some of their biggest clients, is a very lucrative option. Hi Fly’s current A380 has a Singapore Airlines fit out, which includes first class suites.
Next year, another three A380s will be retired from Air France (although their fit-out leaves a little to be desired) and Hi Fly is first in line to snap them up.
“Hi Fly’s existing A380, provided complete with crew, continues to attract significant commercial interest and has a busy season ahead this summer. A decision on acquiring more planes will be taken after the completion of a full financial study” – Hi Fly to Bloomberg
What do you think, is this a good strategy by Hi Fly? Let us know in the comments.