While Emirates’ massive fleet of Airbus A380s rests peacefully at airports around Dubai and British Airways’ A380 fleet sits parked in France, a single China Southern A380 continues to fly. Currently, the aircraft is flying over eastern China and South Korea after crossing the Pacific Ocean. Let’s find out what the only A380 in the world presently flying is up to right now.
For a few weeks now, China Southern has been the only airline operating a regularly scheduled passenger service using the Airbus A380. In fact, the airline has been using it once per week on flights CZ325 and CZ326, between Sydney and Guangzhou.
Additionally, China Southern has been flying the superjumbo on once-weekly services to the cities of Vancouver, Los Angeles, Amsterdam and London. Today, the aircraft is nearing the completion of flight CZ328 from Los Angeles, scheduled to arrive in Guangzhou at about 05:00 local time.
China Southern is the only airline still operating the A380. According to information from FlightRadar24.com, this lone Airbus A380 is registered as B-6136. It has been flying with China Southern for over nine years now, with the airline taking delivery straight from Airbus.
Interestingly, B-6136 was the airline’s very first A380, with China Southern taking delivery of four more over the course of three years. The last A380 delivered to China Southern was in March of 2013.
A380s remain parked everywhere else
Everywhere else in the world, Airbus A380s remain parked in storage. With global demand for air travel at record lows, airlines have found the four-engined superjumbo uneconomical to fly.
The reasons for this are apparent. Not only does the aircraft consume more fuel, but it also requires more cabin crew onboard. Furthermore, maintenance for these jets is more extensive, thanks to having double the number of engines of the more modern twinjets.
Emirates, the world’s largest operator of A380s, has parked its A380 fleet at two airports around Dubai: Dubai International Airport (DXB) and Al Maktoum International Airport – also known as Dubai World Central (DWC).
Meanwhile, in Europe, Lufthansa has opted to withdraw six Airbus A380s from service permanently. There are concerns that Air France will make a similar move with some or all of its nine A380s. This is because the airline’s leadership was already not satisfied with the economics of the plane. In fact, they had decided that the refurbishment of the fleet’s aging interiors was just not worth it. These sentiments were already present before this devastating pandemic.
It’s still quite surprising that China Southern sees itself able to operate the aircraft at all, given the decrease in air travel. However, it’s probably not just passenger demand that gives the airline reason to operate the aircraft.
Just as we’ve seen with many other airlines around the world, it’s likely that large amounts of vital and high-value cargo are delivered using these jets as well. This would justify the use of such a large aircraft, even if passenger numbers are low.
How long do you think these A380 services will run? Will they fly through the duration of this pandemic? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.