Many aviation industry observers had written off the Airbus A380 “SuperJumbo” once the coronavirus pandemic took hold worldwide.
A prevailing view was that the aircraft’s economics – with four engines and as many as 600 seats – made it unsuitable for post-Covid operations.
The double-deck jet has been retired from some airlines’ fleets, while other carriers – including British Airways – had flown their A380s to long-term storage locations.
But BA has now taken the industry by surprise by bringing back five of its 12 giant jets next month – initially on short-haul hops to Frankfurt and Madrid.
Rob Burgess, editor of the frequent flyer site Head for Points, wrote: “According to internal scheduling documents which we have seen, British Airways is bringing five of its 12 A380 aircraft back into service from next month.”
The first flights will start on 8 November from London Heathrow to Frankfurt (408 miles) and Madrid (773 miles) – the latter around one-10th of the plane’s maximum range.
They will enable pilots to reaquaint themselves with the aircraft after a 20-month grounding.
Head for Points says that BA plans to launch long-haul services with a link to Miami from 3 December, with Dubai, Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and Los Angeles following on 5, 7 and 9 December respectively.
“DFW may be delayed as the necessary facilities to handle a BA A380 are not yet in place,” the website notes.
Last month the aviation data analysts Cirium reported that five out of six Airbus A380s were out of active service.
Just weeks after the jet celebrated the 15th anniversary of its first test flight from Toulouse in southwest France, Air France has announced the “definitive end” of flights with the A380.
The aviation schedule analyst, Sean Moulton, said: “The re-introduction of the A380 shows an increase in demand this winter and while only five of the 12 are to be used at first, it shows intent for the airline to keep the aircraft, despite many of its competitors removing it from the fleet.
“With slots still precious at Heathrow, the aircraft will be paramount for airlines serving the capital, however, it remains to be seen what routes they return to in the long run - and which markets rebound quickest.”
The Independent has asked British Airways for a response.
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