Have The Qantas A380s Gone To The Mojave Desert Yet?

There was a flurry of interest when Qantas announced its fleet of A380s was going into the deep freezer for the duration of the travel downturn. The airline has 12 A380s and was halfway through an extensive refurbishment of them when the decision was made to put them in storage.

Have the Qantas A380s gone to the Mojave Desert yet? Photo: Edwin Leong via Wikimedia Commons

The A380s are off for a sojourn in the Mojave desert. The Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce has confirmed this, saying;

“The aircraft are being put into the Mojave desert because it’s better for them to be sitting there. The environment protects the aircraft a lot more, and we have the intention, at the right time, to activate them.”

The Qantas A380s are scattered far and wide

But they aren’t there yet. Right now, the Qantas A380s are scattered far and wide. With a bit of sleuthing, we’ve run down the current locations of each of the 12 A380s.

Three of the A380s are parked in Sydney, and three are in Melbourne. While Melbourne isn’t the A380’s home base, it is a more spacious airport with more room to park planes. There are three A380s in Los Angeles. The refurbishments were taking place in both Dresden and Abu Dhabi. Qantas has left two A380s hanging around Dresden and one parked at Abu Dhabi.

The three A380s in Sydney are VH-OQA Nancy-Bird Walton, VH-OQC Paul McGinness, and VH-OQL Phyllis Arnott. VH-OQC last flew on April 1, operating as QF6018 from Melbourne. Both VH-OQA and VH-OQL flew in from Darwin on March 28 and 27, respectively. These flights would have been the tail end of the short but interesting London-Darwin-Sydney QF2 flights.

Sitting out a chilly Melbourne winter are VH-OQE Lawrence Hargrave, VH-OQH Reginald Ansett, and VH-OQK John Duigan / Reginald Duigan. VH-OQE flew in from Los Angeles on March 22, operating as QF94. VH-OQK made a ferry flight from Sydney on April 2, operating as QF6004. VH-OQH made the same flight a few days earlier.

The Qantas A380s are scattered far and wide. Photo: Mark Winterbourne via Wikimedia Commons

Three Qantas A380s are in Los Angeles

Several Qantas A380s are parked at LAX. These include VH-OQB Hudson Fysh, VH-OQF Charles Kingsford Smith, and VH-OQJ Bert Hinkler. VH-OQF was ferried over from Sydney on March 26, operating as QF6001. VH-OQJ flew the same route two days earlier, touching down into Los Angeles on March 24. When VH-OQB arrived in Los Angeles, we cannot work out, but we do know it has been there since at least mid-March.

The two A380s in Dresden are VH-OQG Charles Ulm and VH-OQI David Warren. VH-OQG has been in Germany since early February, flying in from Singapore as QF6019 on February 2. VH-OQI flew into Dresden on March 23 from Sydney, operating as QF6017. As noted, Dresden was one of two locations where the A380s were getting refurbished. That process was taking about eight weeks per plane and now seems like money ill-spent.

No-one knows for sure whether all 12 A380s will fly again for Qantas. Photo: Simon Boddy via Wikimedia Commons

VH-OQD Fergus McMaster flew into Abu Dhabi from Heathrow on March 7 as QF6007. Abu Dhabi was the second spot Qantas was using to refurbish the planes.

Ultimately, the planes will end up in the Mojave desert storage facility. The interesting point is how many A380s Qantas will bring back into service. Not many people think it will be 12. Most pundits reckon the six refurbished A380s might get a second chance, but the others will be put out to pasture. Another nail in the coffin for the Airbus A380?