Who Will Lease The HiFly A380?

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Previously we reported on HiFly, the wet leasing airline, acquired one of two second-hand A380s and put it on show at the Farnborough Air Show. Now that the plane is complete, painted and ready to go, when can we expect the plane to be rented out and to whom?

“We believe in the future of the A380, If you assume 25 years of service, this aircraft has only just over a third of its economic life.”

Paulo Mirpuri, President and CEO of HiFly
(Translated from German)

HiFly is a ‘wet leasing’ airline, which means they do short-term rentals to other airlines, but, also provide all the maintenance and crew (as opposed to just hiring out the craft). They have a fleet of large widebody aircraft, Airbus A330s, A340s and now will have two of the troubled A380s.

Who will the A380 be leased to?

It was rumoured that there are two different possible regions that would be hiring this A380.

The first could be a European carrier that would operate the HiFly A380 to transport tourists during the summer season from Europe to North America. E.g. Virgin Atlantic

The second would be an Asian airline who would be looking at transporting passengers on long-haul flights from Europe to Asia (and possibly onto Australia). E.g. Thai Airways (who already have A380s).

We know it will not be an American airline as well.

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“We are convinced that there is a lot of potential for the A380, This is a good aircraft for high-traffic airports where landing and landing windows are in short supply and can not be easily added – our customers want a plane that can fly more passengers.” Continued Paulo Mirpuri

Of these two, the most likely scenario is the European carrier. Some websites, such as aero.de, confirming that the plane has already been booked by an airline in Europe, that has no A380 experience, for North Atlantic flights. This’ll be confirmed next week.

What is the airline criteria?

Before speculating, we need to make some assumptions about the criteria, or rather, the need for an A380 by an Airline. There are two major reasons:

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Demand. The first is that the airline has demand for this added capacity. As HiFly hasn’t changed the planes internal configurations from Singapore Airways, there are still 471 seats on board. As some of these are premium seats (Lay flatbeds), so a potential renter would have to be an airline that features a premium ticket category.

Desperate. An airline would be desperate for this high-capacity plane. Such as, an airline that has similar size planes on order (and have yet to be delivered) or an airline that has recently had their capacity reduced (such as having problems with 787 Dreamliner and had to cancel services).

Who are the rumoured airlines?

Air Austral is a popular rumoured Airline. This is based on the fact that they originally had two A380 on order but cancelled them. Perhaps they did lease this jet, to give them the opportunity to test the market. However, this plane is configured to have quite a lot of premium seats which is something that they don’t really offer currently.

Other rumours have been for the following other airlines:

  • Turkish airlines – they’ve always been rumoured to be looking at purchasing a few A380s, and this could be the perfect chance for them to trial the craft and see if it integrates well into their airline. They are also not doing very well financially so it may not make economic sense.
  • Swiss airlines – currently running a twice-daily service to Miami, they could easily swap out their two A330s for one Airbus A380, allowing them to redeploy the other plane somewhere else.
  • Norwegian and Virgin Atlantic – both are currently having problems with their 787 Dreamliners, thus would be very happy to replace them with an A380.

Until an announcement, next week will just have to hold our breath.

And what happened to the other two A380s that Singapore Airlines was trying to pass off? It has been announced by the owners that the two aircraft will be disassembled for spare parts.

“The market for the A380-800 has not developed positively over the past few years, with some airlines having cancelled at Airbus while others have opted for smaller long-haul jets,” said Chief Executive, Peters Group, who own Singapore Airlines.

This will be rather lucrative as well, they stand to make about US$45 million per aircraft just from selling the spare parts.

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