As an aircraft type, the Airbus A380 has captured the imagination of passengers young and old. However, there is one A380 that stands out more than any other. Hi Fly’s Airbus A380 is both the only one being used for wet lease charter operations and the only A380 constructed that has ever been configured with cargo in mind.
The Airbus A380 is becoming a rarity in our skies at the current moment in time. While China Southern, Emirates, and, more recently, Korean Air, are now flying the type alongside Hi Fly, most of the global fleet remains grounded.
9H-MIP’s cargo mission
As of the time of writing, Hi Fly’s Airbus A380, registered as 9H-MIP, was in Kuala Lumpur. The aircraft has been in Kuala Lumpur since last Wednesday. The aircraft is currently in Asia on a cargo-related mission, as it currently lacks the majority of its seats.
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According to data from FlightRadar24.com, Hi Fly’s A380 first flew out to Kuala Lumpur on September 24th. The route from its Beja home in Portugal saw the aircraft undertake a technical stop at the new Istanbul Airport. Having arrived in Kuala Lumpur, the A380 remained on the ground until September 30th when it flew to Bangkok. It stayed in Bangkok until its last flight last week.
World’s first and only cargo A380
Hi Fly is currently operating the world’s only cargo Airbus A380. While Airbus had initially planned to launch a cargo version of the A380 with orders from the likes of FedEx and UPS, the aircraft sadly never made it off of the drawing board.
The only way that we will see an Airbus A380 is through the conversion of a passenger aircraft. It is unlikely that a dedicated A380 cargo conversion will ever take place. As such, we are left with a makeshift freighter equating to a passenger aircraft sans seats. This is what Lufthansa’s CEO refers to as a Preighter. With a max range of 13,300km, the aircraft can carry a total of 68,000kg of cargo, or a maximum volume of 342 meters cubed.
Hi Fly’s Airbus A380 started life as a Singapore Airlines aircraft. Singapore withdrew the aircraft from use in November 2017. Rather than ending up on the scrap heap like many A380s, this aircraft was given a second lease of life, being delivered to Hi Fly in July 2018.
The aircraft was delivered with its former Singapore Airlines cabin still fitted. This meant that a handful of lucky Norwegian passengers got to experience a first class suite for a very reasonable price when the airline was wet leasing the aircraft for New York flights soon after its delivery. Currently, many of the aircraft’s seats have been removed, with a handful remaining onboard the aircraft.
Have you ever seen Hi Fly’s Airbus A380? Let us know your experience in the comments!