Throughout 2021, the Airbus A380 has defied expectations, making a speedy comeback from what seemed like the end at the height of the pandemic. However, while some existing operators are bringing the Airbus A380 back, others have said that the giant of the skies won’t return, meaning that plenty of second-hand jets are seemingly available. Could they find other uses?
So far, only one airline has tried to make a second-hand Airbus A380 work, and spoiler alert, it wasn’t successful. Now, several airlines are signaling they won’t fly the giant of the skies again, but will they find a new role at other airlines.
Some airlines are trying to sell the giant
A couple of airlines are known to be actively trying to sell parts of their Airbus A380 fleets. A handful of Air France jets have been up for sale for a year now (their listings were last updated in mid-November, suggesting that they are still current).
Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines attempted to sell its entire fleet of Airbus A380s via LinkedIn back in July. To the best of our knowledge, no A380 sales have been successful as yet. It appears that this could remain the case moving forwards.
Discussing the situation at Simple Flying’s recent Future Flying Forum, A380 expert Andreas Spaeth commented,
“I think the A380 secondary market is a no-go. The A380 is not efficient enough, not even environmentally friendly enough… I’m giving a firm statement here, I don’t believe in any A380 secondary market ever. Hi Fly was the only attempt and it will remain the only attempt.”
So why won’t it work?
The fundamental problem with the A380 is also the exact reason why it works in a handful of niche cases. The type was king at high-demand slot constricted airports, especially London Heathrow. However, the aircraft was already unpopular before the pandemic, with Airbus pulling the plug on the project in 2019. Just weeks before, Willie Walsh had said that British Airways would be open to ordering more jets but that their price was too high.
Other airlines weren’t open to ordering more jets. Even the most significant customer, Emirates, was dragging its heels on a final order. While the aircraft is a great asset when fully loaded, it can be a challenge to fill the giant, given its many seats.
If the aircraft wasn’t full, it became costly and inefficient, given how much fuel the four engines use when turning. Given the industry’s current state, tied with more efficient high-capacity twin jets, the aircraft seems unlikely to take off beyond its current operators.
Do you think a second-hand market exists for the Airbus A380?
S: Simple Flying
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