MIAMI – Add Korean Air (KE) to the list of airlines that are planning to retire its fleet of the super jumbo Airbus 380 aircraft.
The Korean flag carrier operates a fleet of 10 A380’s, all but one have been grounded due to the ongoing Corona virus pandemic. KE has announced that the four engine, double-decker A380 will be withdrawn from the fleet within 5 years. As recently as June 2021, the airline had said that the aircraft had a future with KE, but with the ongoing weak demand for international travel, the airline has changed it’s position regarding the aircraft.
Korean Air took delivery of it’s first A380 in 2011, and the final aircraft in 2014. The aircraft operated on important routes to Europe, the United States, Australia, and cities in Asia such as Bangkok, and Tokyo, Japan. The A380’s in KE’s fleet were the lowest density of all Airbus 380 operators, at only 407 seats. The airline also operated the only fleet of the jumbo aircraft with a dedicated duty free shop on board.
Korean Air Inherits More A380s
Once the integration of Asiana Airlines (OZ) is complete, KE will inherit 6 more of the super jumbo aircraft. Although the A380 fleet operated by OZ is slightly newer then KE’s, it is unlikely that they will be retained. The final 2 A380’s which were delivered to OZ are leased, and like KE, all but one of the double-decker jets are in storage.
Korean Air joins a growing list of airlines who are withdrawing the super jumbo from Service. In 2020, Air France withdrew the type from service. Lufthansa has also stated that the A380 will not be a part of their fleet going forward. Others such as Etihad, and Qatar are unlikely to return the aircraft to service. Malaysia, and Thai have put their A380 on the market for sale.
Featured image: Korean Air HL7621 Airbus A380-861. Photo: Luca Flores/Airways