Qantas is embarking on its final international Airbus A380 flight until at least 2023. The airline is sending its fleet of the superjumbo to long-term storage in response to the current massive drop in demand being experienced by airlines.
Around the world, Airbus A380s have been grounded. While the majority of the world’s fleet was grounded around March 23rd, Emirates and China Southern are now flying around a dozen of the type. However, many more might likely never fly again. Indeed, earlier this week, it became apparent that Lufthansa’s Airbus A380s likely won’t return to passenger service. For the time being, the same fate hasn’t yet reached the Qantas fleet.
Final international flight for three years
Qantas is currently completing its final international Airbus A380 flight for the foreseeable future. VH-OQI is presently en-route from Dresden in Germany to Victorville in California, United States. Here, the aircraft will enter a state of deep storage.
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The aircraft has been in Dresden to receive a cabin refit. The refurbishment process began before the current crisis. Two jets were in Dresden, with the other flying to Victorville on August 22nd.
VH-OQI departed from Dresden at 10:39 earlier this morning. At the time of writing, the aircraft is currently flying down across the United States following its transatlantic crossing. It is expected to arrive in Victorville at 12:58 to join other Qantas long-haul aircraft, according to FlightRadar24.com. Once it had landed, Qantas is not expecting to fly the Airbus A380 until at least 2023. However, depending on how the current situation evolves, this could theoretically be pushed in either direction if needed.
What’s happening with the world’s other Airbus A380s?
ANA is currently operating a few flights to nowhere with the Airbus A380. The airline only plans to use the aircraft on its Hawaii route. However, as this route remains closed for the time being, the airline has delayed the delivery of its final aircraft.
Air France scrapped its entire fleet earlier this year, becoming the first airline to do so. Meanwhile, for the time being, Asiana Airlines appears to have just grounded its entire fleet, with no firm decisions made on the future.
British Airways has sent its Airbus A380 fleet to France for long term storage. These aircraft are still being maintained in London, and Simple Flying believes they are due to fly again. On the other hand, China Southern is the only airline that has operated the A380 right through the current crisis.
Like China Southern, Emirates has returned to flying the giant of the skies. The airline is likely committed to the type for many years to come, with eight aircraft still to be delivered. Both Etihad and Korean Air have currently grounded their entire fleets, with Etihad reaffirming its commitment to the type to Simple Flying earlier this year.
Lufthansa is unlikely to fly the Airbus A380 again. The airline has said that it will only return the type to service if travel recovers much faster than expected, which seems more and more unlikely. Meanwhile, the entire fleets of Malaysia Airlines, Qatar, Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways are not flying. No retirement plans have been confirmed for these fleets yet.
Have you flown on Qantas’ A380? Are you sad to seem them heading to the desert for storage? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!