The Airbus A380 Is Making a Comeback

The death of the superjumbo jet may have been greatly exaggerated, as more A380s return to service.

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Photo: Ina Fassbender (Getty Images)

The Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger plane, is making quite the comeback right now. It was recently considered the plane of a bygone, pre-pandemic, era, according to Bloomberg. However, overwhelming flight demand has brought it back from the near-dead.

It’s great news for plane spotters who enjoy a thicc fuselage as well as airlines who no longer have to worry whether or not its A380s are worth keeping around.

When the pandemic first took hold in early 2020, many airlines didn’t see much of a use for the enormous jets. Qantas parked 12 of them in the California desert, saying they wouldn’t be needed for at least three years. Etihad Airways also parked 10 A380s, unsure if they would ever fly again.

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But now, all of that is in the past.

[T]this year’s sudden travel recovery has given the cavernous jets — often seating more than 500 people — a new lease of life. They have become the long-range jumbo of choice for airlines from the UK to the Gulf and Australia as passenger volumes stretch aviation workforces that were depleted during the crisis.

By the end of 2022, monthly A380 flights will be almost 60% of pre-Covid totals, Cirium data show, defying the jet’s doubters. British Airways will operate more A380 flights by the end of the year than it did before Covid-19.

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Graphic: Reuters (Source: Cirium)

Other airlines like Singapore Airlines, Qantas Airways, Korean Air Lines, Japan’s ANA Holdings and South Korea’s Asiana Airlines are beginning to phase the A380 back into fleets, according to Reuters.

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Lufthansa is also said to soon be deciding if the A380 should come back for the airline. All and all, analysts say the fleet will never truly return to pre-pandemic levels, but there will be more of then in the air than expected.

Yet 106 are back in service, according to data firm Cirium, up from a low of just four when the crisis hit in April 2020.

There is little second-hand demand for A380s, so airlines often face a choice of flying or scrapping them.

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The A380 was at one point billed by Airbus as a 21st-century cruiseliner, and they were supposed to bring 1,000 planes into service. That being said, only 242 were ever built, so it missed the target by a smidge.