Airbus A380 finds a secondhand market as 'SuperJumbo' returns from the edge of aviation oblivion

Airbus still believes there is potential for new orders for the A380 because of the unrelenting growth of aviation

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Friday 06 April 2018 09:17 BST
Airbus 'SuperJumbo' A380 finds a secondhand market

The remarkable return of the Airbus A380 from the edge of aviation oblivion continues, with a Portuguese airline picking up a pair of used “SuperJumbo” jets that previously flew for Singapore Airlines.

Hi Fly, which is based in Lisbon and specialises in providing ad hoc flying for other airlines, has announced: “Hi Fly is taking delivery of its first Airbus A380, the world’s largest and most spacious airliner.

“The arrival is a major event for the company, making it the first Portuguese and the fourth European airline operating the model.”

Air France, British Airways and Lufthansa are the only existing European airlines to fly the double-deck plane.

The Independent understands that Hi Fly has signed an agreement to lease two A380s from their owner, the German leasing company Dr Peters Group.

The two aircraft were previously operated by Singapore Airlines, the launch customer for the Airbus jet in 2007. They were handed back at the end of their 10-year lease, and have been parked at Tarbes Lourdes Pyrénées airport in south-west France.

The Airbus A380 programme has been beset by problems. Its introduction into service coincided with the global financial collapse, and sales have never matched expectations.

Coming soon to an airport near you? Mock-up of Airbus A380 in colours of Hi Fly
Coming soon to an airport near you? Mock-up of Airbus A380 in colours of Hi Fly (Hi Fly)

Virgin Atlantic, one of several airlines that originally ordered the plane, recently cancelled its order for six A380s.

Of 331 existing orders, 223 SuperJumbo have been delivered — almost half of them to a single airline, Emirates. In comparison, the A350 twin jet — which has been in service for barely three years — has 850 firm orders.

In January, Airbus said the A380 would be killed off unless more sales were forthcoming. The planemaker’s chief salesman said: “If we can’t work out a deal with Emirates, then I think there is no choice but to shut down the programme.”

Shortly afterwards, Emirates ordered 20 more A380s, with options for a further 16.

Hi Fly is a leading provider of ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance) support - more concisely known as “wet leasing”. It is currently providing aircraft for airlines hit by problems with some Rolls-Royce engines fitted to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Turbine blades in the engines are wearing out much quicker than expected, affecting around 200 planes and causing problems for a range of airlines including Air New Zealand and Norwegian.

Hi Fly is covering for those operations with a mix of A330 and A340 aircraft, which are much smaller than the A380. It is not clear what role the firm has for its new acquisitions.

Airbus still believes there is potential for new orders for the A380 because of the unrelenting growth of aviation and the fact that airport infrastructure is failing to expand at the same rate — especially at London Heathrow. Sales may be given a boost by the materialisation of a second-hand market for the A380.

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