Unique Superjumbo Ops: A Look At The A380’s One-Off Flights

There have been many one-off A380 flights, mainly for celebrations, with the double-decker quadjet always ensuring high media interest. It could be for serving a country, such as when Emirates used it to Clark, Philippines, to commemorate 30 years of serving the nation. Or for the inauguration of a new route, as with Qatar Airways to Atlanta, before it reverted to the usual aircraft.

Etihad A380
Although Etihad no longer uses the A380, it deployed it on one-off charter flights, including for Australia’s Flight Center travel agency party to Berlin. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Double-decker one-offs

Other celebrations include a brand-new terminal (Emirates to Accra) or a milestone in airport ownership (Air France to Cancun) or to mark the start of higher frequency (Emirates operating four-daily to Tehran).

Also, to show an airport’s readiness to accept the world’s largest passenger aircraft (Emirates to Beirut) or a one-off and unusually high demand for premium seats (Korean Air to Prague for a conference) or in times of crisis (Malaysia Airlines repatriating Thomas Cook passengers to Manchester).

Charter flights also feature heavily for one-offs, such as Qantas from Melbourne to Tokyo and Orlando, Etihad to Berlin, Jeddah, and Male, and the planned but ultimately canceled Stansted-Orlando. A lack of aircraft explains it too, including Air Madagascar utilizing HiFly’s equipment between Paris and Antananarivo on just one occasion as its own A340s underwent unexpected maintenance.

Tel Aviv was set to be another in December

Tel Aviv was set to welcome the A380 on December 6th to mark Emirates’ commencement of the route before the B777-300ER took over the next day, based on the carrier’s booking engine. Emirates’ service was to be one of up to 14 Tel Aviv departures from Dubai each day.

However, because of the omicron variant, Israel has closed its borders to all foreign citizens. As such, Emirates has postponed the route, although it’ll no doubt materialize at some point in the future. When it does, expect the A380 to be used on the first flight, ensuring great awareness and media coverage.

A380 one offs
The map shows all known one-off A380 services since January 1st, 2011. They include a China Southern charter service from Los Angeles to Wuhan (WUH), which continued to Guangzhou (CAN). They also include a HiFly-operated football charter between Antananarivo (TNR) and Cairo (CAI) earlier in 2021. Image: GCMap.

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Dubai to Bahrain is coming

On December 15th, Emirates will deploy the A380 on the short 303-mile (488km) link from its UAE hub to Bahrain. Operating for Bahrain’s national day celebrations, it’ll be used on EK839, leaving the UAE at 16:05 and arriving at 16:25 local time. Returning, EK840 will depart at 17:45 and arrive back at 20:00. It has a block time of around 80 minutes.

Bahrain is an exception to the one-off rule. For example, it was used on July 16th, 2015, for the Eid al-Fitr festivity, and then on December 15th in both 2017 and 2020. It wasn’t until June 6th, 2021, that the type was deployed daily, albeit only until the end of the month. Now it’s set to return for another celebration.

Have you flown any one-off, whether with the A380 or another type? Let us know in the comments.