VH-OQB

Qantas to bring back first A380 to Australia next week

The first Qantas A380 airliner will return to Australia after the COVID-19 pandemic, will land in Sydney next week as the airline ramps up its international travel plans.

In preparation, Qantas will be flying one of its A380s – the Hudson Fysh, tail number VH-OQB – from Dresden, Germany to Sydney next week.

The move suggests it could be among the first of Qantas’ 12 A380s to return to regular passenger service, having been in storage since March 2020

For the first time since then, VH-OQB took to the skies on August 19 at 13:54 as flight QF6013 and made the 11-hour journey to Dresden Airport in Germany.

Adored by air traffic controllers and passengers, there were fears that Qantas would never fly their A380s again after the 484-seat double-decker jets were mothballed at Los Angeles airport at the start of the pandemic.

Qantas originally said it would store its 12 aircraft in deep storage for at least the end of 2023, but announced in August that five of them would return to fly between Sydney and Los Angeles from July 2022.

VH-OQB

VH-OQB is one of only two Qantas superjumbos that have been grounded in a purpose-built A380 hangar in LAX, rather than stored in the ‘cemetery’ of Victorville in the California desert.

Upon arrival in Sydney, OQB will enter Hangar 96 where she will spend the next few weeks undergoing further checks and maintenance by our Sydney engineers

Qantas’ A380 pilots have been on the ground for nearly two years and need extensive refresher training before the airline can resume flying jets on a regular basis.

VH-OQB flew from Los Angeles to Dresden on August 19, according to FlightRadar24, where a landing gear was changed.

Despite sending most of the airline’s A380 fleet to long-term storage in the desert, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has repeatedly said the carrier will try to rebuild its entire A380 fleet when the pandemic dies down.

In April, Joyce said any aircraft could potentially be returned to service in as little as “three to six months.”

Doubts have been raised as to whether Qantas will ever fly its A380 superjumbos again after it curtailed its 12-man fleet at the start of the pandemic.

International carriers including Lufthansa and Air France have decided to permanently phase out their jets during the COVID-19 crisis. Airplanes have already lost the favour of airlines for smaller and more fuel-efficient jets, and in 2019 Airbus announced it would stop building them.

Qantas, however, will withdraw two of the 12, considering that they exceed future requirements. The first Qantas A380 to return to Australia will arrive in Sydney next week so the crew can begin their refresher training, Joyce said, confirming reports from the masthead.

Qantas has scheduled the return of the Airbus A380 between Sydney and Los Angeles on March 27, 2022. The Airbus A380 is expected to operate daily according to the following timetable:

QF11 Sydney to Los Angeles departing 10:15AM arriving 6:00AM
QF12 Los Angeles to Sydney departing 9:55PM arriving 6:55AM (+2 days)

The decision to return the A380 comes as Qantas sees a surge in bookings for trans-Pacific flights as the country unveiled plans to reopen. Australia plans to allow vaccinated residents to leave the country from November 2021, and several states are to lift quarantine obligations when they return home.

When will the remaining A380s return to service?

  • Three more A380s are expected to return as of November 2022, operating flights to London via Singapore
  • Five more A380s are expected to return by early 2024
  • Two of the 12 Airbus A380s will be retired

Retuning first class & refreshed cabins

QANTAS A380 FIRST CLASS

Including staggered Vantage XL seats in business class in a 1-2-1 configuration

Qantas A380 Business Class

Including new onboard lounge for business class passengers.

Qantas A380 onboard lounge

The premium economy cabin is also much larger than before and has been renovated. It is located at the rear of the upper deck.

Qantas A380 premium economy

Qantas will also bring three new 787s out of the desert storage into service.

Qantas 787 Dreamliner

Qantas also plans to open a new route from Sydney to Delhi on December 6, 2021, with three return flights per week on its A330 aircraft, and will switch to daily flights by the end of the year.

Flights to Honolulu, Vancouver, Tokyo and New Zealand are still slated to begin in mid-December 2021, and to Phuket, Bangkok and Johannesburg in January.

Qantas said that after two A380s begin scheduled flights in April, another three will be added in November 2022 and the remaining five in early 2024.

Jetstar will roll out the remaining five of the 11 Boeing 787-8s from its Alice Springs warehouse in the coming months.

Jetstar 787 Dreamliner

Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas Group, said, “The Australians who are rolling up their sleeves mean our planes and our people are back to work much sooner than expected.

“This is the best news we’ve had in almost two years and it will make a huge difference to the thousands of our employees who can finally fly again”

“We have been saying for months that the key factor for the expansion of international air traffic would be the quarantine requirement. The NSW government’s decision to join many cities around the world by lifting the quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers means we can add these flights from Sydney much sooner than we otherwise would have.

All Qantas and Jetstar international passengers (12 years of age and older) will need to be fully vaccinated with a TGA approved vaccine (unless they have an exemption).

As part of federal government requirements, customers on these flights will also be required to return a negative COVID test from an approved PCR testing site within 72 hours of departure

Matthew Giannelis

Secondary editor and executive officer at Tech Business News. Contracting as an IT support engineer for 20 years Matthew has a passion for sharing his knowledge of the technology industry.

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