Lufthansa will return the Airbus A380 double-decker jet to service from mid-2023, reversing its pandemic-era decision to retire the aircraft as travel demand soars.
The carrier is assessing how many A380s, which are currently parked in Spain and France for long-term “deep storage”, will need to be reactivated, and where they should fly.
While six of the Star Alliance member’s 14-strong superjumbo fleet have already been sold back to Airbus, eight A380s remain on the books.
One reason for bringing back the four-engine model is delays in deliveries of ordered aircraft, Lufthansa said in a statement Monday.
The Boeing 777X, which was meant to replace the superjumbo as the biggest model in Lufthansa’s lineup, has slipped five years behind schedule, with deliveries now postponed to 2025.
“We decided today to put the A380, which continues to enjoy great popularity, back into service at Lufthansa in summer 2023,” Lufthansa said in the statement.
The sudden rebound in travel across the world after two years of stringent curbs has prompted several carriers to bring back the hulking model that had largely been written off when Covid-19 upended the aviation industry. By the end of 2022, monthly A380 flights will be almost 60% of pre-Covid totals, according to Cirium data.
The superjumbo – seen as heralding a luxurious new chapter for aviation with its onboard bars and whisper-quiet interior when it was introduced in 2005 – was falling out of favor before the pandemic hit, as airlines turned to smaller, more fuel-efficient planes. Airbus killed off the program in 2019.
At the height of the pandemic in June 2020, Lufthansa retired 6 of its 14 A380s, with the rest mothballed for at least two years with the prospect of the model never returning to service. An airline executive at the time said the chance of operating the jet from its main hub of Frankfurt was “close to zero.”
Lufthansa has previously pegged its future on the modern and fuel-efficient Airbus A350 and Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner jets, both of which “will primarily be replacing four-engine aircraft.”
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