Qantas’ Airbus A380 Returns To The Skies For Positioning Flight

A Qantas A380 is on the move. The Australian airline has most of its 12 strong Airbus A380 fleet in long term storage at Victorville, California. But on Thursday, one Qantas A380 made the short flight from Victorville to Los Angeles International Airport.

A Qantas A380 flew from Victorville to Los Angeles on Thursday. Photo: Qantas

Qantas sent its mega jumbos to Victorville last year, saying the airline wouldn’t need them for several years. One of those planes is VH-OQC, an A380 that has been flying for Qantas since 2008. VH-OQC went to Victorville around 12 months ago. On Thursday, VH-OQC shuttled to Los Angeles in a short 43-minute flight.

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A short 43 minute A380 flight on Thursday

According to aircraft tracking site, VH-OQC departed Victorville at 12:56 (California time) on Thursday, landing at Los Angeles at 13:39.  It was a short flight, but the plane covered some territory. The aircraft first crossed over the Golden State Freeway before making a gentle turn to the south and heading towards the Camarillo area. There, VH-OQC banked southeast to overfly Malibu and the Pacific coast before turning onto a more easterly tracking.

VH-OQC crossed the coastline once again, now overflying the Los Angeles metropolitan area, passing over Culver City and Monterey Park before making a 180 degree turn over Bell and lining up for a final approach into Los Angeles International. It was a fairly leisurely 64 nautical mile flight. VH-OQC reached a maximum altitude of 13,050 feet and cruised along at a top-flight speed of 270 knots.


Why has the Qantas A380 flown to Los Angeles on Thursday?

Why is VH-OQC off to Los Angeles? Simple Flying has approached Qantas to ask why. The airline hasn’t responded before the publication deadline. But Qantas has a large A380 maintenance base at Los Angeles Airport. That base is a key reason why Qantas picked Victorville as a parking spot for its A380s – the airline’s Los Angeles-based A380 specialists can keep a close eye on the planes.

There has also been scuttlebutt that a Qantas A380 may be going to Germany for work. That’s not new gossip. But Simple Flying is aware Qantas had been standing up an A380 flight crew should that flight eventuate. Thursday’s flight may be a positioning flight for a longer flight. However, that is yet to be confirmed.

Qantas is keeping most of its A380s under wraps at Victorville. Photo: Vincenzo Pace/Simple Flying

Qantas confirms their A380s will fly again

Meanwhile, while most A380 operators contemplate or confirm A380 retirements, Qantas has again said their A380s would be back. When putting the planes into storage, Qantas said they’d likely stay out of the skies until 2023. Over the last 12 months, that timeline hasn’t changed. But as other airlines axe the aircraft type from their fleet, Qantas has consistently reaffirmed the A380 has a future at the airline.

On Thursday, when providing a market update, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce again said the A380 would be back when providing a market update. In follow up comments reported by Executive Traveller, Mr Joyce said he expected to have a least six of the 12 Qantas A380s back in the air by the end of 2023.

Qantas has six freshly refurbished A380s in California in addition to six A380s containing a previous generation cabin fit-out. There’s no prize for guessing which A380s will be first back in the skies. Qantas also flagged further redundancies from its international crew pool on Thursday. But Mr Joyce was careful to stress the airline would retain the capability to ramp up its international operations, including its A380s, quickly.

At the time of publication, VH-OQC remains on the ground at Los Angeles International.