2020 has been a tough year for the Airbus A380. As the largest passenger aircraft in the world, there are currently no routes that can support such a large passenger volume at this time.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were 15 airlines that operated a total of 238 A380s. Each airline has come up with different countermeasures to minimise its losses in the past months. Let’s take a look at each A380 operator’s plan for the Super Jumbo jet.
Air France is the first airline that officially announced the retirement of its entire fleet of Airbus A380s. The airline operated 10 A380-800s from 2009 and retired them in May 2020.
Last December Air France-KLM Group said they were ordering another 10 Airbus A350-900s, which would be used to replace the company’s A380s.
Air France’s A380s have been flying to Los Angeles, New York JFK, Shanghai, Johannesburg, Abidjan, San Francisco and Mexico City.
All Nippon Airways
All Nippon Airways (ANA) is the latest A380 operator. The airline has an order of three, each featuring a unique colour scheme inspired by the Hawaiian sky, ocean and sunset. These aircraft flew exclusively on the Tokyo-Narita to Honolulu route.
Two of the three were delivered last year and the last one was scheduled to be delivered in April. However, ANA has postponed the inauguration of the last of three A380s in sunset orange livery, amid the decline in travel demand due to the coronavirus crisis.
With the Tokyo-Narita to Honolulu route suspended from March 25th, the two ANA Flying Honu A380 aircraft have been grounded.
Asiana Airlines has a fleet of six Airbus A380s that operated about 300 flights per month before COVID-19. All six have been grounded since April.
These aircraft used to fly to Bangkok, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, New York, Sydney, Taipei and Tokyo. Asiana has no plans to resume A380 flights anytime soon.
According to Business Korea, 132 out of the 143 A380 pilots of Asiana Airlines have lost their license due to the lack of work since March this year.
British Airways has a fleet of twelve Airbus A380s, previously being flown to destinations in the United States but also Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Singapore and Vancouver.
In early April, the carrier sent six of their fleet of 12 to the French airport of Chateauroux for long term storage. About a week after that, the other six followed.
China Southern Airlines
China Southern Airlines has been the only airline that has been operating Airbus A380 scheduled flights for the past few months.
China Southern has a fleet of five Airbus A380s, which are all based in Guangzhou.
These aircraft are still flying internationally to the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Netherlands and Australia. Domestically they are mainly operated on the Beijing-Guangzhou route.
Etihad Airways has a fleet of 10 Airbus A380s, featuring the industry-leading cabin product – the Residence.
These aircraft used to fly to London, Paris, New York, Seoul and Sydney.
The whole fleet has been grounded since March.
Emirates is the single largest Airbus A380 operator in the world. With a total order of 123 A380s, 115 of which have been delivered.
Currently, Emirates entire fleet of 115 A380s is grounded in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Announced earlier this week, the Emirates A380 will return to the skies with flights to London Heathrow and Paris starting from July 15th. Other aircraft will come back into service gradually.
Portuguese airline Hi Fly is the only airline in the world that operates a second-hand Airbus A380. The aircraft previously belonged to Singapore Airlines.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, this aircraft has been assigned various special tasks. Starting with the UK government chartering the aircraft to perform a repatriation flight from China to Europe. Hi Fly have since used the aircraft to carry medical supplies to various countries around the world.
Korean Air also has a fleet of 10 Airbus A380s, the same as Asiana the other South Korean carrier.
These aircraft used to fly to London, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Taipei and Sydney.
The whole fleet has been grounded since March.
Lufthansa has a fleet of 14 Airbus A380s, half based in Munich and the other half based in Frankfurt.
Last month, Lufthansa sent seven Airbus A380 to the aircraft graveyard located in Teruel, Spain. These aircraft will not return to the sky again.
Lufthansa intends to trim half of their Airbus A380 operations, by only using them from Munich in the future.
Malaysia Airlines has a fleet of 6 Airbus A380s. The airline has used these aircraft in a similar way to Hi Fly.
Given that Malaysia is a significant producer of rubber gloves, Malaysia Airlines used their largest aircraft to send them round the world.
Before COVID-19, these aircraft were mainly used on South East Asia to Saudi Arabia routes for Islamic Pilgrimage.
Qantas has a fleet of 12 Airbus A380s, which are all grounded.
Six of the 12 will be upgraded with the latest Business Class seats and in-flight lounges whilst they are grounded.
These assets will be idle for the foreseeable future, which represents a significant percentage of their remaining useful life.
Qatar Airways has a fleet of 10 Airbus A380s, all are going to be retired by 2028.
These flagship aircraft have been grounded since March and will remain grounded until the second half of 2021.
Previously, these aircraft operated flights to Bangkok, Guangzhou, Frankfurt, London, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Paris.
Singapore Airlines is the launch operator of the Airbus A380. With a total order of 24, all have been delivered and 5 have already been retired. Singapore Airlines flew the world’s first A380 back in October 2007.
Of the five already left the fleet, four went to the Dr. Peters Group for scrapping and one to Hi Fly.
Of the other 19, all are currently grounded, with some of them being located in Australia’s Alice Springs.
Thai Airways has a fleet of 6 Airbus A380s, all are currently grounded and stored.
Thai Airways has been in a difficult financial position for years, with the situation only worsening this year due to COVID-19. While there is no information on when the aircraft will return, the airline is also not planning to retire them.
These aircraft used to fly to Frankfurt, London, Osaka, Paris and Tokyo.