DALLAS – British Airways (BA) is bringing back all its Airbus A380s in full swing as demand makes its way through the current summer season.
The British airline has a total of 12 A380s and all of them have been pulled out of long-term storage. The airline was rather optimistic about the return of its super jumbos back in November of 2021 and had brought five back into service.
At present, nine of them are operational, and, hopefully, all 12 will be flying soon. BA parked all its A380s in Madrid, so if they needed to bring them back, it’s just a 2-hour flight.
Where will the A380 Fly to?
Until now, with the nine jets, the super jumbos flew primarily from London Heathrow (LHR) to Dubai (DXB), San Francisco (SFO), Miami (MIA), Boston (BOS), and Washington Dulles (IAD).
Earlier this week, the double-deck aircraft returned to Chicago (ORD) and Vancouver (YVR). BA’s A380 is also set to make its debut in Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) on July 1.
The airline also flew the A380 on a short-haul route between LHR and Frankfurt (FRA) all through – it was aimed at training and keeping the crew current for the revival of the long-haul network. The carrier is also closely working on upgrading its A380s interior as the current one is rather old.
British Airways is now the only European operator of the superjumbo as Lufthansa (LH) doesn’t seem to want its giants back in the skies and they remain in Teruel.
When Demand Is High
Just like most airlines operating the type, BA withdrew the entire A380 fleet when the pandemic broke out and questioned its return. Due to difficulties in operating the type, Air France (AF) retired all of its Airbus A380s in 2020.
Lufthansa, on the other hand, sent the whole fleet to Spain for storage and still hasn’t decided whether to bring it back although its Boeing 747 fleet was brought back as well as the A340s.
But why is the aircraft needed back in the skies again? When operated full, the A380 is surprisingly cost-efficient, and while for most airlines, constantly filling the 550-seat behemoth is a challenge, the pent-up demand and the summer travel season make for a compelling case to bring the super jumbos back.
The fact is that, although having only a handful of airports that can accommodate it, the A380 is a passenger favorite and should continue to fly for decades to come, even after its production ceased last year with the 251st from the series as the last one ever built.
The type is not only hugely popular, but it is also good business. As an example, the aircraft represented the vast majority of Emirates’ (EK) profits in the pre-pandemic era; 85% of EK’s profits before COVID came from the A380.
So Who Else is Flying the Super Jumbo?
Emirates, without a doubt, is the largest operator of the type, with a total of 119 in its fleet. More than half are flying actively, serving some 3000 monthly flights across the globe, while the rest are to join too.
In Asia, Singapore Airlines (SQ) reactivated its A380s, which operate 360 monthly flights. Qatar Airways (QR) has also returned its superjumbos to the skies, regularly operating on the LHR route. The Flying Kangaroo Qantas (QF) got back its superjumbos with an average of three daily flights to LHR, Singapore (SIN), and Los Angeles (LAX).
Korean Air (KE) may be the next to join the club, with plans to deploy the type to Hong Kong (HKG) and New York (JFK) from the end of the month. The flying turtles of ANA will also be back in the sky, making trips to Honolulu. China’s sole A380 operator, China Southern (CZ), is currently only flying one of its three to Amsterdam (AMS), Los Angeles (LAX), and Sydney (SYD).
So who’s left to make a decision? Etihad (EY), and LH. Malaysia Airlines (MH), and Thai Airways (TG) retired their A380s last year.
Featured image: British Airways G-XLEB Airbus A380-841. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways