Travel is taking another small yet significant step of recovery with the return this weekend of the Qantas Airbus A380 – and its first class suites – to the Sydney-Los Angeles route.
The red-tailed superjumbo – refurbished with the airline’s latest business class and premium economy seats, along with two new upper deck lounges – touched down at LAX on Friday morning and will be winging its way back to Sydney to complete the trans-Pacific trek on Sunday morning.
At the time, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said he expected the twelve-strong fleet of A380s would remain grounded “for at least three years”, through to mid-2023, although the resurgent demand for international travel will now see a sixth superjumbo back by the end of this year “ with the remaining four A380s expected to return to service by early 2024,” the airline says.
However, only ten superjumbos will return, with one of those already being dismantled at Victorville ‘boneyard' where the A380s were stored during the pandemic to supply Qantas with spare parts for the ongoing upkeep of the remaining ten A380s until they are replaced by the Airbus A350 towards the end of this decade.
Up next: the LAX first class lounge
Despite the trumpeted relaunch of the Qantas first class experience on March 27, a superjumbo shortage forced Qantas to temporarily stop flying its double-decker Airbus A380 between Sydney and Los Angeles after June 18, with flights handed over to the Boeing 787-9.
At the time Qantas was flying only three A380s, all of which were committed to the flagship Sydney-Singapore-London route since June 19.
Qantas' schedule now shows the A380 making sporadic appearances on the QF11 and QF12 flights over the following fortnight, although a second A380 seems set to join the route by Friday August 12, as from that date there are noticeably more ‘A380 days’ on the timetable.
(With those two A380s dedicated to Sydney-Los Angeles, most other days of the week see a Boeing 787 assigned to the 14-hour trek, although on some days there’s no Sydney-LAX flight at all.)
An August return for the Los Angeles-bound A380s also indicates the Qantas LAX First Lounge will soon unlock its doors, which Qantas Group Chief Customer Officer Stephanie Tully told Executive Traveller represents “the last piece in the (lounge) puzzle.”