- After grounding the Airbus A380 in “deep storage” in 2020, German airliner Lufthansa plans to bring the long-haul aircraft back next year.
- Lufthansa had been selling off the excess planes, but is now turning to them as a solution for high travel demand.
- Delayed aircraft deliveries are a reason to put the A380 back in service.
After the COVID-19 pandemic paused air travel in 2020, Lufthansa parked 14 Airbus A380 jumbo aircraft in Spain and France for long-term “deep storage.” The German airliner eventually sold off six of these huge planes, considered the world’s largest passenger aircraft. But now we can expect at least some of the remaining eight to make a comeback; The airline announced Airbus A380s will return to the fleet in summer 2023.
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At 329 feet long and 78 feet high, the A380 is truly huge, and Lufthansa is taking advantage of the space inside. It has configured the A380 to seat 509 passengers in a 3-4-3 setup in economy class. With such a large passenger load, the airline obviously believes the cost of operating the plane will be offset by demand.
And Lufthansa isn’t the only airline still on the superjumbo bandwagon. CNN reports that Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Korean Air, All Nippon Airways, and British Airways all still fly the A380. British Airways had stopped using the A380 in March 2020, but brought it back in October 2021.
Lufthansa’s return to the A380 comes as a “response to the steep rise in customer demand and the delayed delivery of ordered aircraft,” the executive board says. It’s likely that Lufthansa is referencing the Boeing 777X delivery delay, now slated for 2025.
While Lufthansa is still assessing how many of the eight aircraft will make a return and exactly which destinations the airline will fly to, the long-haul aircraft is part of a trend in reshaping airlines. In addition to reenergizing the A380, the Lufthansa board says it will also modernize the fleet in the next three years with 50 new models of the Airbus A350, Boeing 787, and Boeing 777-9 long-haul designs, along with 60 new Airbus A320 and A321s.
Emirates has been the leader in A380 use worldwide, with over 100 planes in the airline’s quiver. In 2019, Emirates canceled an A380 order of 39 planes, leading Lufthansa to cease production of the plane, although it still delivered its final model to Emirates in 2021 to fulfill previous orders. Then came the 2020 pandemic, which made oversized aircraft superfluous for travel. The grounding of the plane led to a sell-off for the German airline.
The demand isn’t waning any longer. Emirates has called the A380 a “flagship product” (the showers on the plane are an added bonus for those who can enjoy that class of service), and Singapore Airlines flew it in 2021, highlighting customer appeal.
While each airline has its own specific setup within the spacious confines of the Airbus A380, airlines all over the world seem to have renewed their belief that the long-haul Airbus is a good future investment.