Hi Fly’s Airbus A380 is no more according to images recently shared on social media. Late last year, the wet lease specialist decided against renewing its lease on the aircraft. With the jet’s livery removed, it was repositioned to France, where it has now been scrapped.
While undoubtedly a great plane, the second-hand market for the Airbus A380 was non-existent even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, things are even worse, with many airlines seemingly unable to get rid of the type soon enough. Thankfully, the type’s future in the skies is secure for now, thanks to significant operator Emirates and also British Airways.
Hi Fly’s Airbus A380 is well in the process of being scrapped in Tarbes, France. Images shared on Twitter over the past days show the sorry state of the former giant. While the aircraft today wears a plain white livery, we know it is Hi Fly’s jet thanks to a partial registration on the livery starting “9H”, the code for Malta. Hi Fly’s A380 was the only of the type flying to be placed on the Maltese aircraft registry.
🏗✈️ Démantèlement en cours de l’ex Airbus A380 d’HiFly.
Il s’agit du 6ème A380 construit, il avait débuté sa carrière chez Singapore Airlines.
📷 Jean Lug Blandin pic.twitter.com/T3IrLtCRg0
— air plus news (@airplusnews) May 12, 2021
When looking at the state of the jet, the most noticeable change is that its entire tail section has been removed just behind the rear pressure bulkhead. Two large areas of the fuselage have also been removed from the top of the jet. Finally, it seems that the plane’s landing gear has been salvaged, as it now seemingly rests on the ground. Key components such as the landing gear will likely become spare parts for other A380s.
— Nicolas (@Nicolas_Granier) May 12, 2021
The jet joins a small pool of A380s that have been confirmed to have been scrapped. The last was the first Air France A380 retired, being deconstructed in Knock, Ireland. While many more A380s have been withdrawn by their operators, they are resting their wings in long-term storage.
🇫🇷 L’Airbus A380, immatriculé F-HPJB, ex Air -France est en cours de démantèlement à Knock en Irlande.
📷 unknow pic.twitter.com/2xnZsNrjX3
— air plus news (@airplusnews) December 29, 2020
9H-MIP’s Final movements
Tarmac Aerosave has wasted no time scrapping Hi Fly’s Airbus A380. The jet arrived in Tarbes two months ago, on March 16th. The aircraft operated its last revenue flight on December 15th, flying light cargo from Shanghai to Hamburg via Seoul.
Two days later, Hi Fly returned the aircraft to Toulouse following the end of its lease. The final flight saw it ‘paint’ a heart in the sky above the Atlantic Ocean. On January 24th, it left Toulouse for Abu Dhabi before returning on March 15th. As mentioned above, the next day, it took its final flight.
An excellent aircraft for niche applications
It seemed that a wet lease Airbus A380 was an excellent idea for when it was needed. Sadly, this was not often. With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the aircraft became unviable. Some highlights of the jet’s passenger career saw it filling in for Norwegian when the 787 was grounded.
The plane also stepped in to rescue stranded Thomas Cook passengers in the wake of its collapse as part of operation Matterhorn. Due to the unique nature of wet lease operations, it was the first Airbus A380 at many airports worldwide. For instance, a football charter was the first passenger A380 flight to use London Stansted Airport.
Sadly, the aircraft spent many prolonged periods on the ground at its Beja home. This was, even more, the case during the winter. With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, the already low demand for the jet ceased altogether. Hi Fly attempted to reposition the plane as a makeshift freighter for high volume, low mass shipments, but it remained unpopular, leading to its eventual downfall.
Are you sad to see the end of another Airbus A380? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!