Those that have their finger on the pulse of the HiFly A380 story here at Simple Flying will be delighted to hear the rumour that they will soon be flying to Israel.
For those just joining us, HiFly is what we call a ‘wet-leasing’ airline. They operate what is essentially charters to other airlines, operating their routes with a provided crew and service. This allows for short-term gaps in a client’s service to be covered easily and quickly. HiFly is not the only airline in the industry to do this, but the first to acquire a 2ndhand ex-Singaporean A380.
What we know so far
We know that the current deal with Norwegian, to run their New York JFK to London Gatwick route, will expire before the end of the month. After that, we expect Air Austral to be leasing an A380 from Hi Fly for their Réunion – Paris route starting in September 2018. Interesting trivia, Air Austral did actually have 2 A380’s on order which they were going to operate in a 840 seat all economy configuration however they cancelled this order in 2016.
It has been a popular replacement plane for any airlines who have had their Boeing 787 Dreamliner knocked out by engine trouble.
So where does Israel fit in this?
Whilst we have no confirmed orders yet from HiFly if an airline has charted the A380 to run a route to Israel, a rumour actually comes from Israeli Ben Gurion International Airport, who has said that HiFly has approached them to ask if their Airport can handle the ‘super plane’ (A380). They have been asking questions about the runway (which was upgraded to handle an A380 recently), airport terminal capacity (a special A380 gate was constructed in the new ‘Arm E’ of the terminal) as well as logistical support (such as food, fuel and more).
Plus, as El Al does operate B787 Dreamliners (currently 6), are they also having some problems with the plane and need a replacement service?
As HiFly currently only has one A380, we can predict that a client will hire them to fly to Israel soon.
This move by HiFly is not without peril, however, as true aviation buffs will remember that in 2015 HiFly landed a plane for regular maintenance in Israel, whilst it was still sporting the Saudi Arabia carrier’s livery. This infuriated their client as Israel is not officially recognised by Saudi Arabia and thus was an insult to the country. The plane was not currently in commercial operations with Saudia, but it was enough that they lost their contract of two planes with the nation.
The Saudis claimed the Portuguese had violated the terms of their contract by deploying the jet to a country with which Saudi Arabia has no official diplomatic ties:
“Such landing or operation process should take place in a country that shares diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to enable Saudia staff and the Civil Aviation Authority to conduct an inspection and follow up on the maintenance operation at any time,” Arab News quoted Hi Fly’s contract with the Saudi carrier.