‘Cradle’ of the largest passenger plane in the world, Europe has never been a market highly interested in the A380. Only three airlines ordered the Airbus jet and for obvious reasons: British Airways, Lufthansa and Air France are based in countries that are part of the production infrastructure created to assemble the huge plane.
However, the current crisis in air travel that has hit mainly large widebodies is making the future of the A380 on the European continent practically impossible. This week, Lufthansa admitted in its third quarter report that it will send the remaining eight A380s in its fleet to storage and that they are out of the medium-term plans.
“Based on current fleet planning and the resolutions taken by the management boards, the assumption is that five Boeing B747s, eight Airbus A380s, 17 Airbus A340s and eleven Airbus A320s, five owned Airbus A319s and another ten leased Airbus A319s at Lufthansa German Airlines, three Boeing B767s and 13 Bombardier Dash 8-400s at Austrian Airlines, five Airbus A321s and 15 leased Bombardier Dash 8-400s at Eurowings and two leased Airbus A330s and eight leased Airbus A319s at Brussels Airlines will be retired permanently,” said the German carrier.
Only the 12 British Airways jets would remain in the European fleet as Air France retired its aircraft in July and Portuguese Hi Fly announced this week that it should return its only A380 to the lessor later this year.
“Valued part of our fleet”
The UK flag carrier has taken its jets out of service since the start of the pandemic and sent some of the aircraft to France’s Chateauroux airport, where they are parked on a taxiway.
British Airways planned to return to use them in December, but the second wave of Covid-19 that prompted a new lockdown caused the company to postpone its return. Despite this, the carrier still denies that they can be retired. In response to the North Wales live website, BA stated that “the A380 is still a valued part of our fleet and there are currently no plans to retire them.”
Instead, the company decided to shut down its 747-400, the oldest and most inefficient variant of the Boeing jet. But there are currently aircraft in its fleet that are more suitable for the current demand, as well as more economical, such as the Boeing 777-300 and 787-10 and the Airbus A350-1000.
Therefore, it will not be surprising if British Airways decides to announce the end of flights with the A380 in the near future, marking the decline of the massive aircraft at least in Europe.