British Airways will delay the return of its 12 Airbus A380 superjumbos for at least another six months after travel restrictions failed to be lifted as quickly as the Heathrow-based carrier had been hoping.
The airline had tentatively pencilled in the double-deck aircraft on several routes which, pre-pandemic, had strong demand. Routes planned for the 469 seater aircraft included once-popular destinations like Los Angeles and Johannesburg.
Ongoing travel restrictions, including the Biden administration’s ban on UK travellers, as well as South Africa’s ‘Red List’ ban, means the A380 still offers far too much capacity for the small amount of available demand.
Under the airline’s revised plans, the A380 could now serve seven destinations from March 27, 2022. These include: Singapore, San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles, Johannesburg, and Dubai.
As has happened several times already, these plans are subject to change and the A380 could remain grounded for even longer if the winter season brings further anticipated surges of the COVID-19 virus.
For the time being, BA’s fleet of A380’s will remain ins storage in several locations including at Madrid Barajas airport. The fleet is moved occasionally for maintenance work and isn’t in the kind of long-term storage that Qantas decided to put its A380’s into in the Mojave desert.
Qantas is hoping to bring back some of its A380’s slightly earlier than originally planned with the hope of deploying five of its superjumbos from mid-2022. Up to 10 A380’s will be returned to service by early 2024 while two will be permanently retired.
The long-term future of the A380, however, remains uncertain. Air France has already retired all of its A380’s, while Etihad Airways is also expected to ditch its superjumbos permanently. Qatar Airways doesn’t see a future for quad-engined passenger jets and will most likely also get rid of its A380’s.
Lufthansa is also set to decommission its A380’s but Singapore Airlines remains committed to the aircraft and is even investing in cabin upgrades for when they do eventually return to the air.
And of course, Emirates also remains committed to flying its massive fleet of A380’s for years to come. The airline will fly six A380’s to London Heathrow daily from November 2021 and is putting the planes on more and more routes as Dubai witnesses a return in travel demand.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.