The first of 12 Qantas Airbus A380 superjumbos returned to Australia on Tuesday for the first time in nearly 600 days after a more than 19-hour non-stop flight from Dresden, Germany.
The 13-year-old double-deck plane landed at Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport at 3:11 pm on Tuesday, 9th November, after an absence of 593 days from Australian shores.
Named after one of Qantas’ founders, Hudson Fysh, will be returning to regular service from April 2022 three months earlier than originally expected on the Sydney to Los Angeles route. The aircraft will initially be used for crew training ahead of its return to service.
Hudson Fysh or VH-OQB as it is otherwise known was sent to California, along with Qantas’ 11 other A380’s at the start of the pandemic for storage as Australia slammed shut its borders and travel demand plummeted.
Unlike the majority of the Qantas A380 fleet, VH-OQB wasn’t sent into deep storage in the infamous Victorville airplane graveyard in the California desert but was instead stored in a purpose-built A380 hangar at Los Angeles International Airport for most of the pandemic.
In August, the aircraft was flown to Dresden for scheduled maintenance, including a new landing gear.
The aircraft left Dresden at 10:20 am on Monday and finally arrived in Sydney on Tuesday afternoon after covering 16,105 km during its 18-hour and 51-minute flight from Europe to Australia.
Qantas originally didn’t think it would return its A380’s to service until the end of 2023 but a total of five superjumbos will be back in active service starting next year. Two will be serving the Sydney to Los Angeles route from April 2022, while the remaining three will be plying the Sydney to London route from July 2022.
All five superjumbos have been refitted with upgraded cabins while they were in storage.
The entire fleet won’t, however, be fully back in service until early 2024 even under Qantas’ accelerated return to service plans.
“The early return is symbolic of how quickly demand for international travel has bounced back and this aircraft will play a key role in preparing our crew to return to A380 flying operations in the new year,” commented Qantas Chief Pilot Captain Richard Tobiano.
But Captain Tobiano warns that the return to flying for some of Qantas’ A380 pilots could take some getting used to.
“Many of our crew have found other jobs during the pandemic doing everything from working in vaccination hubs and hospital wards to driving buses and tractors, and painting houses,” Tobiano continued.
“Over the next few months, pilots will undergo an extensive retraining period including simulator sessions, training flights and classroom courses to prepare for take-off.”
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.