This morning saw the last of five Airbus A380s depart from Frankfurt International Airport for long-term storage. D-AIML left that airport at 09:32, bound for Teruel, Spain. The move leaves just two A380s with Lufthansa in case they are needed at short notice.
Many airlines have been reevaluating their short and medium-term fleet needs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has especially been the case when it comes to the real giants of the sky, such as the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380. While Lufthansa looks set to operate the 747-8 for years to come, the future seems more uncertain for the Airbus A380 fleet.
Earlier this morning, D-AIML departed Frankfurt Airport at around 09:32. The Airbus A380 had been due to depart from the airport at 09:00 for what could be its final flight. Runway 18 was used for the departure, with the relatively empty A380 getting airborne reasonably quickly.
Having entered the air while still above the runway, the aircraft waved its wings a couple of times. It’s nice to think that the pilots were just waving goodbye to Frankfurt Airport for the last time.
It could also have been the pilots checking the aircraft’s essential flight controls. After all, it hasn’t flown since March 2020. The aircraft hasn’t flown passengers since 2019 as it was in Manila for heavy maintenance right as Lufthansa decided to ground its Airbus A380 fleet.
The aircraft climbed to 41,000 feet for the flight to Teruel, passing directly overhead Germany, Switzerland, France, and Spain on the way. Following the 1,314 kilometer journey (as the crow flies), the German giant touched down at its new home in Teruel at 11:29 after around two hours in the sky.
A dark future ahead
Unfortunately, the future for the Lufthansa Airbus A380 looks dark and miserable. Officially, the airline has only permanently retired six of its 14 jets. It is looking increasingly likely that none of the fleet will return to the skies. Including D-AIML, ten aircraft are now in storage in Teruel, Spain. A further two are in Tarbes, while two remain at Frankfurt Airport in case they’re needed.
While Lufthansa will retain some four-engined jets, it is generally trending towards a twinjet fleet as it moves forward. Lufthansa has indicated that the A380, A340, and older Boeing 747-400 jets are unlikely to return to the skies. New orders are focusing on twin jets from both major manufacturers. Lufthansa Group airlines are expecting 31 Airbus A350-900s, 25 Boeing 787-9s, and 20 Boeing 777-9s.
The Airbus A380s are being moved from Frankfurt Airport for storage due to lower parking costs. The aircraft are in a phase of long-term parking. While it takes more work to store and unstore the aircraft for a long term, less work is needed in the interim while they are resting their wings. Last September, Lufthansa commented,
“The remaining eight A380s… will be transferred to long term storage and removed from planning. These aircraft will only be reactivated in the event of an unexpectedly rapid market recovery.”
Will you miss seeing the Lufthansa Airbus A380 gracing the skies above Germany? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!