MIAMI – Qantas Airways (QF) plans all of its Airbus A380s to fly again, signaling optimism that global air travel demand will recover and the superjumbo will be viable once more.

“All of the A380s, we believe, will be reactivated. QF CEO Alan Joyce said at a CAPA Live virtual conference on Wednesday that the airline had invested a lot of money on them. “They’ll be good aircraft once demand is there.”

In June, the Australian airline grounded all 12 of its four-engined behemoths, claiming that they would be made obsolete for at least three years. Joyce says that the A380s can be reactivated in three to six months if international demand returns sooner than anticipated. 

According to Bloomberg, the A380’s disappearance seemed to be hastened by the decline of international air travel during the pandemic, as airlines turned to smaller aircraft. Air France-KLM (AF/KL) announced last year that it would phase out its A380 fleet early, and Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LH) has indicated that its A380s may never operate again.

Joyce is much more positive about the world’s largest jetliner, saying on Wednesday that the pace at which vaccines are being administered in the United Kingdom and the United States, both major QF markets, works equally well for a turnaround in passenger traffic on those routes. Emirates (EK), the largest A380 customer, has stated that its fleet may return next year once vaccinations have been implemented worldwide.

Qantas VH-OQB Airbus A380-842. Photo: Phil Wilco/Airways

Anticipated Plans for Qantas after the Pandemic

Infection flare-ups have regularly shattered expectations of a return to aviation. Although Joyce reiterated that extensive international travel would not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024, he remained committed to resuming almost all of Qantas’ international routes by the end of October, despite the fact that Australia’s own vaccination program has been postponed until then.

Joyce added that QF’ International business consumes around A$5m (US$3.8m) each week. Corporate clients are clamoring to travel to the United States, Europe, South Africa, and South America hence Vaccine passports are the only choice for resuming international travel. 

The domestic leisure sector in Australia has made a big comeback. This year, QF plans to fly 80% of its pre-Covid domestic capacity, up from 60% in the first three months of the year.

VCV – Stores Qantas A380, Air New Zealand 777, Volotea 717. Photo: Luca Flores/Airways

Featured image: Qantas VH-OQH Airbus A380-842. Photo: Andrew Henderson/Airways