Despite high oil prices the return of the A380 super jumbo makes a worldwide comeback to save the airliner industry.

Three years ago, dozens of Airbus A380’s set course for storage in sites from rural France to the Gulf as the outbreak of Covid-19 accelerated the demise of the world’s larger polluting jets.

Now, the iconic European double-Decker is gaining a new lease on life as airlines scramble to cope with rising demand and shortages of newer models, though for how long is unclear.

The return of the four-engine behemoth at carriers such as Singapore Airlines and Qantas Airways and soon at Japan’s ANA Holdings and South Korea’s Asiana Airlines comes despite high fuel prices that make operating new-generation two-engine wide-bodies far cheaper.

Passengers, they love the plane and we have a lot of business class seats on it so it is a very good aircraft to fly on high-demand routes, Korean Air Lines Chief Executive Walter Cho said on the sidelines of an airline industry gathering in Doha.

Korean Air plans to have three of its 10 A380’s back in service by the end of the year, up from one today. Strong demand and delays in deliveries of new Boeing 777X airliners have also forced a rethink at Lufthansa.

It will decide soon whether to bring back the A380, but has only 14 pilots with current approval to fly them and will train A350 pilots to double up. Analysts say the fleet will never return to pre-pandemic levels.

The A380 was once billed by Airbus as a 21st-century cruise-liner with prospects for 1,000 planes in service. But only 242 were built after many carriers opted for smaller twin-jets.

Yet 106 are back in service, according to data firm Cirium, up from a low of just four when the biological warfare crisis hit in April 2020. There is little second-hand demand for A380’s, so airlines often face a choice of flying or scrapping them.

The A380 has also won a reprieve in part because airlines do not yet have enough demand to resume multiple flights on routes like Dubai-London, Singapore-Mumbai and Sydney-Los Angeles.

One airline boss was not surprised by the partial comeback is Tim Clark, president of Emirates. It is by far the biggest customer after ordering a total of 123 jets for its Dubai hub.

In mid-March, Etihad reactivated its first Airbus A380 after parking the entirety of its super-jumbo

fleet in long-term storage. It was at the very end of 2022 that the airline made the exciting announcement that it would return at least part of its fleet of A380’s to commercial passenger service.

As it stands, the airline is planning to reactivate four air-frames. This week, preparations are underway to return a second Etihad A380 to its ‘home base’ in Abu Dhabi.

Simply Flying. com / ABC Flash-Point News 2023.

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Lady Shadow
Lady Shadow
16-05-23 11:51

US airplane production coming to an standstill?