Photo Credit: Charlie Carter/AviationSource

15 Years Since The Airbus A380 First Commercial Flight: Struggles Into The Future?

LONDON – With today being 15 years since the first Airbus A380 commercial flight, are there struggles heading into the future on the operational front?

On October 25, 2007, SQ380 departed Singapore Changi, bound for Sydney Kingsford International Airport on what would have been a game-changer for passenger transport.

From being able to operate high-density flights to enhanced comfort on the premium products offered by airlines, the aircraft type is responsible for the following accolades:

  • It has operated to over 70 destinations.
  • Over 400 airports across the globe have the infrastructure to handle the aircraft when it lands and takes off.
  • Across a staggering 800,000 flights, 300 million passengers have been handled, placing an average of 375 passengers per flight.

Emirates Keeping The Jet Alive?


Photo Credit: Karam Sodhi/AviationSource

Emirates is no doubt keeping the legacy of the jet alive, with data from Planespotter.net stating that 77 of its 119 are currently in service.

The airline is continuing to work on getting the other 42 back in service, especially as demand continues to climb as a result of the world slowly coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Emirates, its relationship with the A380 has been so strong that they are known as the carrier that has the big superjumbo, irrespective of the other customers who have the jet.

From an industry perspective, the relationship between Airbus and Emirates was so strong that an A380neo was nearly released as a result.

But for other carriers, bringing back the A380 into service is proving to be more difficult than expected.

Qantas: Major Manhours Needed for Return to Service…


Photo Credit: James Field/AviationSource

According to a report from The Economic Times via Bloomberg, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce confirmed that bringing back one Airbus A380 into the air takes around 4,500 hours’ worth of work.

On conversion, that is around 187.5 days to bring the aircraft back into service, which will cost the airline a lot of money for six months just to bring the aircraft back into shape.

The Australian carrier took the decision to park all 12 of its A380s back in June 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic was in full effect.

However, of the 12, 10 are coming back into the fleet to help the carrier with the influx of international capacity it has been experiencing.

CEO Alan Joyce said the following regarding the logistics of bringing the aircraft back into service:

“Just to wake up an A380 is 4,500 hours, or two months, of manpower. That’s 10 engineers working for two months in the Mojave Desert – for one plane.”

“They replace all 22 wheels and all 16 brakes and get rid of all of the oxygen cylinders and fire extinguishers. Everything on board the aircraft is replaced.”

“The aircraft is put up on jacks in the middle of the desert. Its gear is tested, and the aircraft’s engines are run in the desert to make sure that they’re all functioning.”

“That’s just to get out of the desert to Los Angeles or to another maintenance facility. When the aircraft is flown out, most of the aircraft then go through 100 days of maintenance on top of that.”

“We will have by Christmas six of the aircraft back by, but we won’t get all 10 of them back until well into 2024. That’s how long this takes.”

Struggles into the Future?


Photo Credit: Charlie Carter/AviationSource

Whilst it does appear to be the perspective that getting an A380 back into service can be quite the struggle, the operators know that it is a strong investment to make.

As we come further out of COVID-19, and more notably, the global recession, the Summer 2023 season will see plenty of people going away on holiday or visiting friends and family.

When that happens, that is when the perspective of needing the A380 becomes a correct one and will provide further longevity to the now-retired program for many years to come.

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