Lufthansa Technik is working on converting an Airbus A380 to freight use during the current crisis. An unidentified customer has requested that the maintenance provider helps to support the temporary conversion of an A380 for freight use.
Earlier today, we mooted whether we could finally see a freight version of the Airbus A380. While it seemed like a distant dream, it looks as though this wish will be fulfilled. At least one A380 will be losing its seats to carry cargo for the foreseeable future.
So what’s happening?
Lufthansa Technik today issued a press release regarding the temporary conversion of passenger aircraft to freighters. Indeed, we’ve seen several airlines, including Lufthansa itself, removing seats from aircraft, making it easier to transport cargo. So far, Lufthansa Technik has received inquiries from over 40 airlines that are interested in aircraft conversions.
These requests span a vast range of different aircraft, with some 15 projects on the go. However, Lufthansa Technik was sure to grab our attention with one little detail:
“A special highlight is the support of the operational change of a first Airbus A380 of an undisclosed customer with which Lufthansa Technik has now been awarded.”
Our new services for temporary operational changes from passenger to cargo aircraft have met with great interest in the market: Among enquiries from more than 40 airlines the support of a first #A380 is a special highlight for us https://t.co/uS0SNplRU8 #keepyouflying pic.twitter.com/5h1D4pzyjMAdvertisement:
— Lufthansa Technik (@LHTechnik) May 5, 2020
Whose A380 could it be?
Lufthansa has very clearly stated that the airline looking for the temporary configuration is an ‘undisclosed’ customer. As such, we likely won’t know who it is until it is officially announced, or we see an A380 start to fly freight routes on FlightRadar24.com.
Until then, we can speculate as to who the lucky customer could be. Thankfully, the list isn’t too long as only 15 airlines operate the Airbus A380. However, we can narrow down the list even further by looking at current Lufthansa Technik A380 maintenance customers. These are:
- Asiana Airlines;
- British Airways;
Of course, it could be another airline. However, somebody like Emirates, who already does all of its A380 maintenance in-house, would likely also keep this in-house. Another possibility could, however, be Hi Fly, whose aircraft just received maintenance with TARMAC Aerosave.
Of these airlines, two spring to mind as likely contenders for the A380 conversion. Lufthansa and British Airways are both operating daily freighter flights between Asia and Europe.
Now, Lufthansa has already converted some aircraft, including A330s, for freighter usage. Additionally, throughout the current crisis, the German flag carrier has been very transparent about the current status of its fleet. Hence, it would seem odd to keep such a secret.
Personally, and I must reiterate that this is pure speculation and completely unconfirmed, I think that the Airbus A380 conversion customer could be British Airways. While the majority of BA’s A380s have been sent to Chateauroux, two haven’t. G-XLEH remains at London Heathrow, with G-XLEG already in Lufthansa Technik’s care in Manila.
British Airways is currently operating three daily flights to China to collect personal protective equipment for the NHS. Two are Boeing 777 flights to Shanghai. As such, it would surely be a no brainer to swap two 777s for one Airbus A380, as freight doesn’t care as much about the time of a flight as passengers do.
However, despite all of this speculation, we’ll just need to wait and see which airline either confesses or suddenly starts to operate an Airbus A380 on regular flights.
Who do you think is looking for the Airbus A380 conversion? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!