British Airways CEO says its A380s will return
The superjumbo "is in our plans for the future rebuild of the airline", says BA chief Sean Doyle.
British Airways' fleet of 12 Airbus A380s remain grounded, but CEO Sean Doyle says the airline won't join others such as Lufthansa, Air France, Etihad Airways and Malaysia Airlines which have scuppered the superjumbo.
"The A380 isn't flying at the minute but it is in our plans for the future rebuild of the airline," Doyle says. "Exactly when we will put the A380 back into service is something that we’re not clear on."
However, that's not expected to be until 2023-2024, when Doyle – in common with the rest of the industry – expects to see demand for air travel return to pre-COVID levels.
"It will take demand two or three years to get back to where it was in 2019... our best guess is 2023-24," Doyle told The Independent.
That recovery will largely be driven by non-business travel, with holidaymakers and people visiting family and friends leading the corporate market.
"There will be a couple of trigger points for business travel to come back," Doyle predicted.
"One is when people get back in the office and two, again when they're able to travel in and start doing a bit of face-to-face again. We are seeing surveys from a lot of corporate customers that are showing a degree of fatigue with homeworking and remote working."
"You do business with people, not organisations, and the ability to get face-to-face again will come back and will be part of the way people want to operate in the future."
It's not known if British Airways still intends to refit its A380s with the airline's latest Club Suite business class, which would replace the current decades-old Club World with the newer, more spacious design which includes sliding privacy doors.
In the days long before COVID-19 this upgrade was due to take place across 2023-2025 as the final phase of a multi-billion dollar program.
BA's flagship A380 routes previously included Singapore, Hong Kong, Johannesburg and several North American destinations such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Washington and Vancouver.
Also read: The little things you'll love about BA's new Club Suites business class