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Passenger numbers on the rise: why the A380 is returning

Status: 22/06/2022 15:24

Emirates and British Airways want to get their A380 fleets back to the air quickly. Lufthansa is also considering returning its out-of-service XXL aircraft.

By Angela Göpfert, tagesschau.de

They are a real eye-catcher, if only for their size: Emirates airline presents its A380 at the International Aerospace Exhibition (ILA) in Berlin. If Emirates and a few other airlines prevail, there should soon be more examples of the giant Airbus plane in the air and grabbing attention.

The pilots still need training

All Emirates A380s are expected to fly back as soon as possible, airline chief Tim Clark announced on the sidelines of the ILA in Berlin today. Emirates has the world’s largest fleet of the world’s largest passenger aircraft, with 119 A380s in operation. 65-70 of these are currently flying. “We will get her back as soon as possible,” Clark said.

But there is a lack of sufficient training capacity. 40 to 50 pilots still need to be trained, as well as cabin crews. This is the highest safety standard. “We do not compromise”.

The demand for tickets pushes airlines to the limit

The background to the revived interest in wide-body aircraft is the recent rapid increase in passenger numbers. Some airlines are now recalling that with the A380 they have an aircraft with which they can react very well to acute bottlenecks.

The sharp rise in ticket demand also gave Lufthansa reason for reflection. A reactivation of the A380 machines will be verified for next summer, said Carsten Spohr, head of the largest German airline, at the General Assembly of the International Aviation Association IATA earlier this week in Doha. A decision on this is expected to be made this July.

Lufthansa A380 still stationary in Spain

Until April Spohr had no longer confirmed the future of the group’s wide-body aircraft. Lufthansa originally had 14 A380s in its fleet, six of which were returned to Airbus before the corona pandemic broke out. The remaining eight were taken out of service during the pandemic.

They are all in the so-called “deep storage” in Spain: for such long-term parking, the windows and openings on the fuselage are closed, sensitive devices are removed. In addition to the lower parking rates, the climate, which is meant to protect the technology of the aircraft, also speaks in favor of the Spanish airport of Teruel.

British Airways plans to restore its entire fleet

British Airways has taken a different approach. The British also closed their A380 fleet when the Covid 19 pandemic broke out and initially stored them in France before moving the machines to Madrid.

But instead of saying goodbye forever, British Airways announced it would reactivate superjumbos as soon as demand increased again. In November last year, the British ordered five A380s to be put back into service.

Just two weeks ago, British Airways announced that it would re-operate its entire A380 fleet in the summer to meet the high level of passenger demand.

A plane that was late

Airbus delivered the latest A380 to Emirates last year. The Franco-German company, promoted to the DAX in September 2021, had already admitted in 2019 that ten years had passed since the mass production of the world’s largest passenger aircraft. In mid-2020, US rival Boeing also announced the end of its 747 jumbo jet.

The trend in civil aviation is now towards smaller machines like the A350 and Boeing’s A320 or 787 family aircraft. Such machines consume less fuel and therefore have lower operating costs. In addition, they can be used more flexibly on a wide variety of routes and even in smaller airports.

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