Qantas Reactivates Its Second Airbus A380

After the hoopla surrounding the reactivation of the first Qantas A380, the return of the second A380 was a far quieter affair. Over the weekend, VH-OQD Fergus McMaster made the journey from storage in California to Sydney, landing back home on Monday morning local time.

Qantas has just flown its second Airbus A380 back to Sydney. Photo: Qantas

VH-OQD departed Los Angeles mid-evening on Saturday for the 14 hour plus flight down to Sydney. The Airbus A380 touched down in wet and overcast conditions just after 06:00 on Monday. The superjumbo had covered 7,641 miles (12,297 kilometers) on this flight.

Eagle-eyed planespotters were anticipating the return to service of the second Qantas A380. They’d spotted this plane doing some laps over Los Angeles in the runup to Saturday’s transpacific flight.

Youtube channel LA Flights has some nice footage of the jet pushing back in Los Angeles on Saturday evening. The A380 takes off right at the end of the footage. That plane is followed by a Qantas Dreamliner – both bound for Sydney.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

Weekend A380 laps over Sydney

Qantas resumes scheduled A380 flights between Sydney and Los Angeles on Tuesday, January 11. The thrice-weekly flights are a stop-gap measure to solve a problem caused by out-of-action 787-9 Dreamliner crews.

Qantas reactivated another A380 in early November. VH-OQB Hudson Fysh made a splashy return home and has been busy operating familiarization flights over Sydney for out-of-practice A380 crews.

VH-OQB will depart Sydney and operate QF11 to Los Angeles on Tuesday evening. It will be the first Qantas A380 carrying fare-paying passengers since March 2020. Since the middle of last week, that plane has made multiple take-off and landings from Sydney Airport.

Over Wednesday and Thursday, VH-OQB operated four flights over Sydney, each of approximately one hour’s duration. The flights put crews and the aircraft through it their paces. By the weekend, the tempo of flying was really picking up.

On Saturday and Sunday, VH-OQB operated ten flights around Sydney. By breakfast time on Monday, the superjumbo was up in the air again. The flights typically comprise a loop out southwest towards the Wingecarribee area before turning back towards Sydney, running out over the Royal National Park, and going out to sea before heading back into the airport.


Qantas plans to reactivate 10 of 12 Airbus A380s

The decision to reactivate the Qantas A380s with VH-OQB and VH-OQD is a slightly odd one. Whereas VH-OQD is refurbished with the latest top-notch Qantas cabin product, VH-OQB is not. From a passenger’s point of view, it’s a lucky dip as to what plane you get.

Qantas plans to reactivate 10 of its 12 Airbus A380s. The airline has already refurbished six; VH-OQD, VH-OQG, VH-OQH, VH-OQI, VH-OQJ, and QH-OQK. Six still sport previous generation cabins. It’s not known which two A380s will not return to service. However, you might assume the two would come from the half dozen older yet-to-be refurbished planes.

The oldest Qantas A380 is VH-OQA Nancy Bird Walton, which arrived at Qantas in September 2008. The next two oldest A380s are Hudson Fysh and VH-OQC Paul McGinness, both of which landed at Qantas in December 2008. All three remain unrefurbished. However, the return of Hudson Fysh suggests at least one of the oldest Qantas A380s has a future at the airline.