While the pandemic keeps taking its toll on international air travel, airlines are reviewing the future of their wide-body aircraft. Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) and Air France already announced that their Super Jumbos would not return into service, as China Southern hinted about its possible retirement.
But British Airways CEO reaffirmed his confidence in reviving the Airbus A380 operations once the international air travel demand recovers. “[The Airbus A380] works very well for British Airways,” said Sean Doyle during the CAPA Live conference on April 14, 2021.
“We can fly it to many destinations, we flew it to places like Hong Kong and Johannesburg, it worked well in the markets like Boston. Even in the East Coast and Miami, we found that the A380 worked very well.”
However, for A380s to operate in their full capacity, international air travel demand needs to reach pre-pandemic levels, which according to Doyle would not return for another two to three years. “Our best guess is 2023-24,” he said.
According to the British Airways CEO, for the start of international air travel recovery, the British government should be leading the way. In particular, the exec wants to see the United States and United Kingdom opening up, as vaccination programs in the US and UK began to accelerate.
Currently, British Airways has a total of 12 Airbus A380 aircraft, according to the Planespotters.net data. Most of them are parked in Madrid Barajas Airport (MAD) aircraft storage facility in Spain.
According to Flightradar24.com data, throughout February-March 2021, British Airways Super Jumbos were spotted several times heading to London Heathrow Airport (LHR) for possible maintenance checks. Recent A380s activities sparked hopes for double-decker fans that the aircraft might be returning earlier than expected.