Hold on! The A380 just booked another slot. And not just any other slot, but Sydney-London, no less. It’s being reported that Qantas could bring back its Airbus A380 aircraft on the iconic Kangaroo Route from Sydney to London late next year. Just when we thought that the A380s were breathing their last in exile in dusty deserts, some airlines have bucked the norm and reaffirmed their faith in the superjumbo. Well, at least for the time being!
A380 fans have another reason to rejoice. Executive Traveller has reported that Qantas plans to deploy its A380 airplane on the Sydney-London route by October 2022. Qantas, like many airlines around the world, did not expect the giant to return anytime soon. However, the carrier has brought back the jets from storage and even planned its next few outings.
The Australian airline will first fly the A380 from Sydney to Los Angeles in March next year, and a London departure will follow a few months later in October. However, the London date is not set in stone. The report suggests that the A380’s reintroduction date to London could be brought forward should travel demand warrant an early comeback.
For the time being, the carrier’s 787-9 Dreamliners are filling in for the superjumbo on the popular Sydney-London Q1 service, with a stopover at Darwin.
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International travel picks up
Australia has had some of the strictest border control policies in the world throughout the COVID pandemic. On November 1st, the country eased travel restrictions, allowing fully vaccinated Australians to cross the border and come back without the need to quarantine.
Qantas did not anticipate travel demand to bounce back the way it has, at least not enough to fill up the double-decker plane. But with the borders slightly more porous now, travel-starved Australians have lined up to book tickets in enormous numbers. This has given a new lease of life to the carrier’s fleet of A380s.
The superjumbo might not have remained the most efficient aircraft to operate, but it is undoubtedly one of the most comfortable airplanes ever built. Although it has lost some of its sheen when it comes to operating costs, particularly with more efficient twinjets posing ever-increasing threats, it remains a very popular aircraft with flyers. The news of Qantas’ A380 connecting the two hemispheres will, indeed, be welcomed by many.
Swimming against the tide
Over the last year and a half, countless obituaries have been written for the A380. Once a darling of the airlines, it fell out of favor quite swiftly during the pandemic and for valid reasons. There just weren’t enough people to fill the mammoth plane. Also, the high operating costs of the A380 pinched the airlines in a turbulent COVID-induced environment, particularly when they had the option of deploying new-generation planes such as the 787s and A350s at much lower costs.
However, with vaccination rates gaining pace worldwide and borders opening up, the A380s are gradually making their way back. Emirates never really said no to the superjumbo, and now British Airways, Qantas, and even Qatar – however reluctantly – are planning the return of their A380s.
While the glory days of the A380 might not return, it seems the superjumbo will still crisscross global skies for a few more years.