MIAMI – The first of 12 Airbus A380 owned by Qantas has landed at the Victorville airlines graveyard in Southern California.

The Australian long-haul airline is parking its A380 fleet while its international flying is in hiatus. However, many are also asking whether the A380 will ever leave the graveyard again.

On Monday, July 6, VH-OQE, flight QF6001, left Melbourne Tullamarine Airport. The aircraft flew non-stop to Victorville after its 14h flight. VH-OQE landed at 11.02 (local time) on the same day.

A380 Qantas Taking off. Photo: Airbus

Qantas A380 to relocate in Victorville

The aircraft sat idle in MEL Intl’ airport since mid-march after operating a commercial flight in from Los Angeles. Of the 11 remaining Qantas A380, two are in Melbourne, three are in Sydney, three are in Los Angeles, two are in Dresden, and one is in Abu Dhabi.

While no one was expecting the Qantas A380 to take to the air and fly passengers anytime soon, Qantas boss Alan Joyce (54) said:

“The aircraft are being put into the Mojave Desert, where the environment protects the aircraft because we have the intention at the right time to restart them, but that is a considerable amount of time away.”

“The A380 have to remain on the ground for at least three years until we see those international volumes brought black. There is a potential to bring all 12 A380s back, but there is a potential to bring less than 12 back.”

Qantas Airbus A380 taking off from London Heatrow Intl’ Airport (LHR)

A desolation for Qantas

It is a bleak outlook from an airline that has a history of over-promising and underdelivering. COVID-19 has seen Qantas reset its messaging. The future scenario Qantas now paints for its A380s  and international flying, in general, is gloomy.

Alan Joyce said, “we think international will take a long time – nothing this next financial year – and next July, we may start to see some international services and that will only get us to 50% the following year”. But with no resumption of A380 services on the horizon, the pace of relocating the planes to Victorville could pick up.

Qantas Airbus A380-in hangar. Photo: Qantas

Qantas A380 will be in good company

Victorville is just 145 kilometers northeast of Los Angeles and is on the site of the former George Air Force Base. While the airport is best known as a graveyard, it is also an extensive maintenance and logistics hub.

VH-OQE will be in some good company at Victorville. Two Boeing 747-8 planes destined to operate as Air Force One are at Victorville. One has been there since early 2017, the other since 2019, and both are undergoing modifications to bring them up to Air Force One’s specs.

The parking of the A380 at Victorville is part of significant changes at Qantas. The airline’s last Boeing 747 is leaving in mid-July.

In the end, an airline that was synonymous with big planes is now boasting A330 and Boeing 787-9 as its big capacity planes. with the retirements of the Boeing 747 and the A380 across the board, that is a big, yet common change.

Featured image: Qantas Airbus A380-842 reg. VH-OKG taking off from Kingsford Smith Airport (SYD). Photo: Federico Pronesti – @fede.spotter.fco