With Qantas’ Airbus A380 aircraft grounded for the foreseeable future, a handful of its pilots have taken up a different profession in the meantime. According to media reports, they’ve swapped the controls of huge aircraft for the steering wheels of busses.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for the aviation industry. Around the world, crew have been furloughed and jobs lost, as airlines adapt to the future reality of reduced passenger numbers for the coming years. One group that is particularly suffering are Airbus A380 pilots, as the giant of the skies remains absent from most airlines’ fleets.
From Airbuses to buses
A group of 13 long-haul pilots from Qantas have temporarily hung up their wings. According to the Australian news program The Project, and spotted by aeroTELEGRAPH, while they’re not behind the controls of some of the world’s largest aircraft, they’ve put their skills to different use by driving for Forest Coach Lines, a Sydney bus company.
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Two of the 13 pilots were interviewed by Australian news show The Project. Peter Cairnes is a First Officer on the Qantas Airbus A380. He was responsible for flying the last A380 service that left London before the airline suspended the route. Meanwhile, Peter Probert is a captain on the aircraft type. He was the pilot that landed the first Airbus A380 at Sydney Airport when it was delivered.
These two pilots spent 62 years between them flying jetliners around the globe for Qantas. But 7 months ago the high fliers came down to earth in a hurry.
— The Project (@theprojecttv) October 26, 2020
Flying the giant into Mojave
Qantas sees no immediate need for the giant of the skies in the coming years. As a result, the airline has sent its entire fleet of Airbus A380 aircraft to the United States for storage. While two aircraft remain at the airline’s Los Angeles maintenance base, the remaining ten are up at the Mojave desert’s Victorville Airport.
Both pilots flew A380s into the massive aircraft graveyard, with Probert getting emotional, remarking that the aircraft he flew in, VH-OQA, might never leave the facility. The airline has publicly said that it won’t fly the A380 until at least 2023.
With an average age of 11.2 years old, Qantas has one of the older A380 fleets. There is hope that some of the aircraft will return to the skies for Qantas. After all, two have only just received brand new interiors. However, the airline could make their temporary US stay more permanent.
Qantas isn’t alone in mothballing the Airbus A380. Most airlines around the world are currently not operating the type. Just last week Hi Fly said that it would retire its sole A380, while Singapore Airlines said that it would retire seven more of the aircraft.
Meanwhile, Lufthansa’s management doesn’t think the A380 will return to the German flag carrier’s fleet. Other carriers such as British Airways and Korean Air have yet to outline any plans for their A380 fleets.
Do you miss seeing the Airbus A380 in the skies? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!