So much can change in the space of a year. At the start of 2020, Lufthansa was still operating 14 Airbus A380s. However, due to the pandemic, the airline has already retired six of its A380s, with management unsure whether the remaining aircraft will return to service. But where is the fleet now, and how did we get here?
2020 was a bad year for the Airbus A380 worldwide. Except for China Southern, which continued to operate its full fleet right through the year, every airline’s A380 operations were affected, with some airlines like Lufthansa going as far as to retire aircraft of the type.
Assisting in the repatriation effort
While many Airbus A380 carriers had already grounded their fleets of the giant by the start of April, Lufthansa kept a handful of Airbus A380s flying for repatriation reasons. This saw a few of the aircraft making their first (and likely last) appearance in New Zealand in mid-April.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.
According to data from FlightRadar24.com, Lufthansa last operated a passenger Airbus A380 flight on April 13th, 2020. This was a repatriation flight from Bangkok to Frankfurt (a continuation of LH357 from Auckland to Bangkok). Since then, the Airbus A380 fleet has ended up split across two facilities.
Half the fleet head to Spain
On April 7th, even before Lufthansa had finished its Airbus A380 repatriation flights, the airline had announced that it would retire six of its 14 Airbus A380s with immediate effect. In late April and early May, seven of the fleet were flown to Teruel in Spain, an aircraft storage facility. They were accompanied by the airline’s entire fleet of Airbus A340-600 aircraft.
The entire fleet has been placed into a state of long-term storage. Those that aren’t in Spain have remained at the carrier’s main Frankfurt hub. Frankfurt’s aircraft are stored to the south of the airport at the airline’s A380 maintenance facility. Meanwhile, the airline has parked several Boeing 747s on a closed runway at the airport.
The future of the aircraft
In its third-quarter results, Lufthansa revealed that it expects the remaining Airbus A380s to be retired permanently. At the time, the airline said,
“Based on current fleet planning and the resolutions taken by the management boards, the assumption is that five Boeing B747s, eight Airbus A380s, 17 Airbus A340s and eleven Airbus A320s, five owned Airbus A319s and another ten leased Airbus A319s at Lufthansa German Airlines… will be retired permanently.”
The aircraft mentioned in the quote are on top of the aircraft that have been retired by the airline since the start of the pandemic.
Do you think Lufthansa’s Airbus A380s will fly again? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!