Yesterday was another special milestone in aviation. Hi Fly operated their last A380 flight and I was the only passenger onboard this special farewell flight.
Hi Fly belonged to a very exclusive club of only 15 airlines to ever operate the A380. Following almost three years of successful operations worldwide, the charter specialist airline decided to phased out their Airbus A380 at the end of its lease term.
The decision not to extend the initial agreed lease period came as a consequence of the covid-19 pandemic, that has drastically reduced the demand for the very large aircraft.
The Story of the Paint Scheme "Save the Coral Reef"
The Hi Fly A380, registration 9H-MIP, supported the Mirpuri Foundation’s “Save the Coral Reefs” campaign and carried the message across the five continents, raising awareness for an unprecedented fight to stop the destruction of our oceans.
The livery was comprised of one side being painted in a dark blue and displaying destroyed corals, contrasting with a light blue on the other side, designed to represent a pristine ocean, with images of colourful and healthy marine life.
Which side are you on?
Flight HFM380 from Beja to Toulouse
The flight was conducted by commander Carlos Mirpuri and F/O Joao Domingues.
Our take-off from Beja at runway 01L was followed by two fly-by's over the runway, one at low speed and one at high speed. This was followed by a rapid climb to FL400 and then we were headed to the sea, some 100 nautical miles west of Lisbon.
I didn't know the plan ahead of time and was caught by surprise. We pulled some serious Gs and did some amazing almost "aerobatics" on the A380!
After the spectacular fly-pass, we proceeded to the Atlantic Ocean just west of Lisbon; were our flight path drew a special heart shape to pay tribute to the A380. The heart was drawn perfectly in just 25 minutes.
Cabin Tour - One Last Look
I was the only passenger on this A380 ferry flight to Toulouse. I had 471 seats to choose from! The cabin was very well maintained and it was hard to believe that the plane was 14 years old. No prizes for guessing who the planes owner is!
The flight was over 3 hours and included lunch, this was comprised of Portuguese rice with duck and salad.
After the sky drawing, our airplane proceeded en route to Toulouse, overflying Grândola, Lisbon, Santarém, Castelo Branco, Covilhã, Guarda, Salamanca, Zamora, Lerma, Burgos, Logronõ, Sanguesa, Jaca, the Pyrenees Mountains, Bagneres de Bigorre, Lannemezan and Muret.
Arriving in Toulouse we performed a low pass, which was followed by a full landing. Block time 03 hours 55 minutes, distance 2.269km.
Local Toulouse PlaneSpotters took some great photos of our arrival.
The Significance of Hi Fly A380
The Hi Fly A380 was significant, according to Captain Mirpuri and the company. Due to the nature of charter, the Hi Fly A380 flew to many airports that had never received an A380 before.
It was the first to land in Wuhan, China, following the coronavirus outbreak to repatriate European citizens.
Recently, it completed a round the world humanitarian mission, which lasted four days, starting and ending in Beja, Portugal. It covered 31,047 kms in a flight time of 33 hours and 45 minutes, with stops in Tianjin and Santo Domingo.
The First "Cargo" A380
Hi Fly’s A380 was the first to be converted to a cargo version, removing the Economy seats to meet the high demands during covid-19 crisis. She was able to carry 68 tons and offered 340m3 of volume capacity; plus, it could fly direct for over 17 hours. This combination of volume, payload and range made it unique for cargo transportation.
And was the first A380 to land in:
• Beja (23/07/2018)
• Oslo (2/08/2018)
• Reunion (25/08/2018)
• Diass (14/04/2019)
• Antananarivo (30/06/2019)
• Cairo (7/07/2019)
• Caracas (14/07/2019)
• Buenos Aires (23/07/2019)
• Dalaman (23/09/2019)
• Enfidha (24/09/2019)
• Las Palmas (27/09/2019)
• Santo Domingo (16/05/2020)
The Hi Fly A380 visited 53 different airports, in 33 countries across 4 continents.
2. Abu Dhabi
9. Buenos Aires
26. Kuala Lumpur
28. Las Palmas
29. London Gatwick
30. London Stansted
35. New York
39. Palma de Mallorca
40. Paris-Châlons Vatry
41. Paris-Charles de Gaulle
42. Paris-Le Bourget
43. Reunion Island
45. Santo Domingo
Total 45,749:40 Flight Hours and 5,695 Cycles
Next Saturday I will be sharing an emotional farewell video of the Hi Fly A380, including some spectacular footage of the fly pass and the heart drawing in the sky to celebrate the A380.