What Is Happening With Singapore Airlines’ Airbus A380s?

**UPDATE 08/02/21 @ 09:45 AM: Statement from Singapore Airlines added below.**

Once the second-largest operator of the Airbus A380, Singapore Airlines’ aircraft haven’t seen much flying recently. After being parked up during the early days of the pandemic, the A380s have been sitting in the desert or at their hub. However, SQ has been flying these aircraft recently and even bringing them back home to Changi. Here’s what’s happening with the superjumbo right now.

Singapore Airlines A380
This week saw a second A380 fly from Sydney to Singapore following a maintenance check. Photo: Singapore Airlines

Moving closer

As COVID-19 began impacting business in early 2020, Singapore Airlines began moving some of its A380s to the Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage (APAS) facility in Alice Springs. With no short-term use for these aircraft due to near-zero demand, parking the aircraft in the arid desert was ideal. The remaining jets remained in Singapore, undertaking new and unique (non-flying) roles

Several Singapore aircraft have been parked at APAS, with some unlikely to fly with the airline again. Photo: Getty Images

In November, the carrier announced that it would retire seven superjumbos, bringing down the fleet size to just 12 aircraft. This figure matched the number sitting in APAS at the time, leading to speculation that these planes would be scrapped. However, that may not be accurate. 

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Another one

In February 2021, Singapore Airlines took off the covers from 9V-SKQ and flew the A380 to Sydney for essential maintenance. After a few days of maintenance, the aircraft was on its way to Singapore for a cabin refurbishment, giving hope that the planes are here to stay for a while.

This week, another A380 made the same journey. 9V-SKW departed Alice Springs on 28th July bound for Sydney. After two days on the ground for maintenance, the A380 left for Singapore Changi Airport, arriving seven hours later.

In a statement, a Singapore Airlines spokesperson said,

“Singapore Airlines can confirm that one of its Airbus A380 aircraft, registration 9V-SKW, that was being stored in Alice Springs, was relocated to Sydney for maintenance checks before returning to Singapore. This movement is part of the ongoing management of our fleet, ensuring we remain nimble, flexible, and prepared to deploy capacity to markets as the demand warrants. The aircraft’s return to Singapore will allow for scheduled maintenance to be conducted.”

What Is Happening With Singapore Airlines’ Airbus A380s?
The return of the A380 for a new cabin signals Singapore’s intention to keep them in the long term. Photo: Getty Images

In Singapore, these aircraft will receive the all-new first class ‘Suites’ and big upgrades across all other seats too. Last year, the airline confirmed that all 12 remaining A380s will undergo the cabin refit by end the end of 2021. With only a few more planes left for the upgrades, this could be a timely affair.

Not flying

Despite some occasional activity around the Singapore A380’s, they currently remain firmly on the ground for passengers. Considering load factors remain painfully low, it makes little sense to bring out the biggest passenger aircraft for flights. Moreover, Singapore’s strict border control means there is little demand currently.

However, the airline has tentatively planned some routes for the superjumbo this year. Starting 31st October, the A380 may fly to London, Sydney, Beijing, Auckland, Delhi, and several more. These are all subject to travel restrictions and it is possible that the A380 return will be pushed back depending on the COVID situation.

Singapore Airlines A380
While SQ has around 1,700 A380 flights slated for winter 2021, many, if not all, will not fly. Photo: Getty Images

Overall, the A380 undoubtedly has a future with Singapore Airlines. The only question that remains is how long it will take for the airline to see enough demand to restart regular flights.

What do you think about Singapore’s A380 future? Let us know in the comments!