LONDON – After three years of operations in the airline, the Airbus A380 will be withdrawn from the HiFly (5K) fleet as it comes to the end of its lease term.
The aircraft in question, 9H-MIP (MSN 006), will not have its leasing agreements extended due to the continued downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This virus ultimately reduced the demand for the aircraft, meaning 5K will now leave the very exclusive club of 15 airlines to ever operate the A380.
At 14 years old, this aircraft started out as 9V-SKC at Singapore Airlines (SQ), offering 12 seats in First Class, 60 seats in Business, and 399 in Economy.
SKC stayed in the SQ fleet until July 2018 when it was delivered to HiFly, having been ferried between Singapore (SIN), Abu Dhabi (AUH), and Malta (MLA). In that same month, the aircraft was painted in the ‘Save The Coral Reefs’ special colors in order to bring up the environmental issue.
Finally, in June of this year, the aircraft was fully configured into an all-cargo A380 in order to handle the cargo demand for medical goods during this pandemic.
According to 5K, the aircraft will be replaced by additional Airbus A330s it aims to bring on, which the airline believes is “a smaller and more adequate aircraft for current market conditions”.
This of course comes as no surprise as the market has been turning to this direction for years, even before the pandemic hit the planet. It is however a sad day for the A380 once again, especially in a livery that enthusiasts wanted to see day in day out due to how unique it was.
Last year, the airline took delivery of its first Airbus A330neo, thus hinting that more aircraft could be on the way for such replacements.
Another Sad Day?
This is another sad day for the A380 and the industry, as now, it will be far more difficult to find a buyer who will take over the high overheads, especially during a period of restructuring globally.
It is of course no surprise if the aircraft gets sent into retirement, especially with Emirates (EK) retiring its first Airbus A380, dubbed A6-EDB which is 12 years old. Qatar Airways (QR) has previously said that the aircraft will remain grounded from the fleet until 2022 at the earliest, while the industry tries to recover.
However, airlines such as SQ are trying to make the most of the aircraft, especially with the carrier inaugurating its dining experience at SIN, which has proved to be very popular so far.
Either way, this is yet again another disappointment to mark the year with, with enthusiasts only hoping that more of the aircraft can stay alive during this volatile period.
Featured Image: 9H-MIP, the only HiFly Airbus A380 in the fleet. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons