Qantas: no plans to bring A380s back early as NSW axes quarantine

The superjumbo is set to fly again from the middle of next year, but two of the 12-strong fleet will be retired.

By David Flynn, October 15 2021
Qantas: no plans to bring A380s back early as NSW axes quarantine

Although Qantas has welcomed the move by NSW to end the requirement for hotel and home quarantine for fully-vaccinated travellers from November 1, the airline says it has no plans for an early return of its Airbus A380s.

The red-tailed superjumbos are slated to take wing from July 2022 between Sydney and Los Angeles, followed by the Kangaroo Route from Sydney to London in November.

While that's well ahead of the original 2023-2024 timeline, Executive Traveller understands the airline has ruled out bringing those A380 flights forward.

Qantas is restarting its Sydney-London and Sydney-Los Angeles flights from November 1 – they were previously scheduled to take off from November 14 – but bookings will be "limited to Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families and parents in line with Australian Government requirements."

PREVIOUS [August 26, 2021] | Qantas will bring back its flagship Airbus A380 from July 2022 as the airline ramps up for the restart of international flying.

However, only ten of the 12 superjumbos will return from storage in California's Mojave Desert, with the airline confirming that two would be retired "because they will be surplus to requirements."

The good news – besides that the double-decker A380s are back – is that the ten set to take wing will all have been upgraded with the latest business class and premium economy seats, along with two 'premium lounges' on the upper deck and a refresh for first class.

Six of the Qantas superjumbos have been refreshed with new business class suites and upper deck lounges areas.
Six of the Qantas superjumbos have been refreshed with new business class suites and upper deck lounges areas.

The first five red-tailed Qantas Airbus A380s will begin flying between Sydney and Los Angeles from July 2022, and between Sydney and London (via Singapore) from November 2022.

The airline's rationale is that "the A380s these long-haul routes when there's sufficient demand, and the high vaccination rates in both markets would underpin this."

Five more A380s are due to return to service by early 2024, "with timing dependent on how quickly the market recovers."

Qantas initially forecast its A380s would remain stood down for at least three years, until demand rebuilt to pre-Covid levels in 2023-2024, although this was later revised to see as many as six superjumbos soaring back from the end of 2023.

Flagship routes remain strong for the A380

However, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce today announced the airline will "bring five A380s back into service about a year ahead of schedule – from mid-2022 onwards – to fly to the UK and US."

"These were key markets for Qantas before Covid and given how well they have recovered, we expect travel demand on these routes to be strong enough for the A380."

While Joyce noted that it was obviously up to the government to determine "exactly how and when our international borders re-open... with Australia on track to meet the 80 per cent trigger agreed by National Cabinet by the end of the year, we need to plan ahead for what is a complex restart process."

"There's a lot of work that needs to happen, including training for our people and carefully bringing aircraft back into service. We're also working to integrate the IATA travel pass into our systems to help our customers prove their vaccine status and cross borders."

"We can adjust our plans if the circumstances change, which we've already had to do several times during this pandemic. Some people might say we're being too optimistic, but based on the pace of the vaccine rollout, this is within reach and we want to make sure we're ready."

Also read: Here's when, and how, Qantas expects overseas flights to return

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

QF

04 Apr 2014

Total posts 196

Hardly a suprise.  Demand will return quickly next year.  

28 Aug 2016

Total posts 22

“Scrapped”? Are you sure? Surely they’ll sell the last two aircraft to be used as aircraft, or is the second hand market for A380s so bad the aircraft will be scrapped?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Dec 2014

Total posts 47

Given how many airlines around the world are getting rid of their A380s, I doubt there is a second hand market for them at all.

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 653

Maybe use the scrapped 2 for spare parts?

14 Feb 2015

Total posts 12

Qantas has also had what, three or four "grand reopening of international travel" dates thus far. I won't be expecting to see much of anything on any dates they provide until I see jets actually taking off WITH passengers to overseas destinations. My suspicion is even if July is realistic for US travel, there will be more nervous travellers waiting it out for longer than those willing to risk getting stuck somewhere as we have all been experiencing for a year now with snap lockdowns of varying severity.

Dont hold yer breath for anything too wild in 2022 Alan!

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1409

Flyboy the will start US travel in December with A330s and 787s; the A380s will happen in July when the home quarantine hopefully may ease.

04 Sep 2019

Total posts 21

on what green earth can you consider the USA a covid "low risk" 

vaccinations are stalling due to anti vax and right wing propaganda 

and case numbers are steadily increasing due to delta

and to top it off, if travel insurance doesn't cover ANY covid related items (likely), then the USA is off limits for any low risk traveller (no doubt people who do it anyway, get covid and have to pay hundreds of thousands in medical costs in the USA will look to the australian government / gofundme to bail them out, similar to the people who get smashed in bali and thailand on scooters and motorbikes) 

04 Dec 2017

Total posts 71

Best news I've heard all day. Fingers crossed.

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Aug 2018

Total posts 105

Hypothetical, but at least something to look forward to after a long time since March 2020 for this commenter.  Clearly still dependent upon the cooperation of all State Premiers and the Feds. Yet, the Q answer to shift the international route from Perth to Darwin , if forced by the possible WA blockage, is a clever move. Hope that fuller vaccination will bring this date forward.

JA
JA

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Jul 2013

Total posts 14

wonder what routes from the 2019 network this would impact? i would wager Mel/Sin and the seasonal Syd/HK A380 flights

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 685

I've seen reports on another local website that the A380's will be based exclusively in SYD, when they return. Now, whether that is just for the first five .. or whether it is all ten, needs to be clarified.

As for the 'retirement' of the surplus two frames, I would be prepared to wait and see if this actually happens. It makes no sense whatsoever to 'retire' two paid for frames - even in the current timeline. Typically, QF is known to usually get a premium for surplus aircraft when they choose to retire, but the market for A380's won't be so generous. 

There's a bunch of very lightly, newer A380's that Malaysian (MH) are looking to sell (and have been on the 'available' list for quite a while). Not to mention the Thai Airways models which will come up for sale, right along with the Air France models. Let's not forget the Asiana and Korean models, and oh, Qatar might / might not enter the sales ring.

I would presume that if QF were to retire two A380's, "Nancy Walton" would be the first to go. Oldest frame and subject of the engine blowout, it has less miles on the clock than most (if not all) of the other frames. When you consider that QF effectively wrote off / down the entire A380 fleet over 12 months ago, it would make sense to keep these two frames since the investment in them would be costing QF almost nothing. In other words once trip costs are covered, every passenger ticket is producing revenue . Engine stock and spare parts are common with the rest of fleet ~ and QF has owned them long enough to accurately predict inventory levels and costs.

Yes, the market for international travel may not be entirely clear yet ~ but AJ forecast the return of the A380 fleet during the later half of 2023 or 2024. So, with this announcement, the market is proving to be 12-18 months ahead of what was originally predicted. If QF wants to get back to it's full 2019 route map and timetable structure, then it will need these frames.

Think Dallas, USA / South Africa / Santiago, Chile. For the last two, there aren't going to be B747-400ER's anymore, so something has to replace them. JNB would likely move to a daily service, given the mess that SA is in, and who knows what Latam will do with SCL-SYD-SCL. Personally, I think that JNB and SCL would be served with B787-9's, so these two destinations could consume up to 4 frames eventually. That would maintain 2019 seat capacity but would cut the 13 B787-9's down to 9. 

The ex PER (now DRW)-SIN-LHR rotation will require an additional 3 frames, which pulls back to 6 available. Slim picking to serve HKG, HND, NRT, SFO, ORD, YVR, HNL and SIN. Throwing the A330's back on regional SE Asia might work for HNL, SIN, MNL, BKK and HKG but they won't work competitively for India (as a 2stop). Interesting times ?

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1409

Kimshep come 2024 there may be a few A350s to pick up the slack.

Hopefully QR will follow suit despite Al Baker's latest comments on their 380 fleet. 

For me quarantine requirements on return will be the main determinant for demand in 2022 onward. If they can provide a reasonable solution to this ie. home quarantine and negative test after a couple of days then can see demand growing exponentially. 

For business or personal travel a 1-2 week isolation on return certainly isn't worth it for me.

12 Oct 2017

Total posts 6

You are absolutely right the biggest key to International travel getting up and running again is removal of the hotel quarantine requirement on returning to Australia. With new dedicated quarantine facilities being built and heavily promoted in the media it seems unlikely that this is likely anytime soon. Alas. 

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 187

Any dedicated quarantine centres built will be bigger white elephants than the de-salination plant in Victoria! They will never be used, in fact they may never get built, it's all political spin.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 187

The one definite is that whenever our backward government allow us citizens to fly internationally again, the demand will be enormous. To everyone who has been talking down anyone who wants to travel abroad again, you will be severely disappointed!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 May 2016

Total posts 32

What great news - on both fronts -(a) that at lest 10 of our marvelous planes will be back (if not all 12) and (b)  that overseas flights to USA and UK may recommence in December.  

As if the original QF A380 was not good enough, we flew home from London (March 2020) in Business in a refurbished QF A380 and it was truly amazing.  The space, the comfort, the friendliness & professionalism of the crew, the food; storage - it was just brilliant.   We flew into two week's home quarantine and that was the perfect end to three superb weeks in London, Glasgow, Belfast, Dublin and back into London - all self planned and staying in hotels booked through Qantas.

Congratulation to Qantas for extending  their status memberships - we didn't need the extension this year, but we are grateful to have our Gold Status extended into 2023.  How appropriate is that for "valued customer".   There is even a thought now we can spend Christmas 2021 with our family in Houston whom we haven't sen since November 2019.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 252

Good to hear! Lets open up!!!

23 Jul 2017

Total posts 84

No pun intended, but we've heard before about "opening up" to foreign travel. The US is still suffering badly from covid19 in spite of the use of several types of vaccinations available. The UK is not much better, vaccination or not. I had mine several months ago, and in spite of being a regular traveller to foreign climes in the past, I doubt I'll be on any of the early flights from Australia when it is possible to leave the country.

That is not to say others will be lining up to "escape". Good luck to them. Each to his/her own. Fly in good health and return that way. One has to hope hotel quarantine will be a thing of the past if people are covid19 free. If quarantine is necessary and people live alone, that's the place to isolate for the required time. (It's cheaper, too).

Let's wait and see what the morrow brings (or months as the case may be. Lets be positive.

 

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 187

The time to stop worrying about counting Covid cases is now (in fact it was 12 months ago!)

Get the A380's back in the sky and watch them fill to overflowing. 

To every person who wants to hide away, there will be 100 who will get out there flying again. 99.7% of people who may possibly catch Covid when on an A380 will have practically no symptoms or illness. 

Take responsibility for yourself, overreaching government needs to stop, they do not need to be nurse maids to us.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1409

Catching it on the plane isn't the issue so much as catching it where you are going. Practically no symptoms or illness is the luck of the draw colleagues who caught it say a so-called mild case  isn't much fun. Two months later no taste or smell and lethargy 

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 187

Patrickk, you are correct. The 0.3% of people may get some mild symptoms!

However for the people who travel on the Qantas A380's, which is the point of this discussion thread, they are mostly likely to be vaccinated and so reducing their chances even more.

Get the A380's back and open up.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1409

Richard the issue isn't getting sick on the plane it is filling the plane in the first place (and worries of getting sick where you are going) that is why the new timetable is about 1/3rd capacity

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 187

Patrickk. I fully understand that but that is a different conversation not suitable to this discussion thread which is all about getting the Qantas A380's back flying.

So my discussion point is that the demand for bringing back the A380's will be enormous. Most people who want to book will be vaccinated and therefore whether it is on the plane at the destination or on return, the risk to bringing them back and starting to fly again is minimal and should be applauded.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1409

Richard I think we are in furious agreement the A380s will come back when they can fill so June 22 seems about right to me, give the issues discussed above..

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 187

Patrickk. Fair enough. For myself and thousands of others they can come back tomorrow and they will get filled.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 509

Might have trouble speeding up the re activation of A380 in the US, but more importantly the cost of getting the pilots to fly the empty hours to be competent to fly the A380 again in the face of flip flopping international border/quarantine policies

06 Feb 2021

Total posts 37

Given the announcement from the NSW Premier today, (15/10/21) and the bringing forward of international flights for, I think, the third time in about a month, this is another situation that I believe could change before mid year despite QF's comments today.  They only have a finite number of planes suitable for long haul, and if destinations like Japan which is currently only timetabled for less than daily services from both Melbourne and Sydney presently, using April 2022 as a benchmark, are popular enough to require a return to daily services from both, where are the aircraft coming from ? There are only 11 (or is it 14 ?) 787's and 28 A330's in the fleet, if demand exceeds the coverage these can provide, surely the A380's will have to come back sooner.  

Would Qantas also want to potentially lose some passengers, if others like Emirates, Qatar and Singapore are flying A380's given it is such a popular plane with passengers ?  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 685

I feel exactly the same way Ian J and could not agree more.

The QF B787-9 fleet currently limited to 11 frames. The other 3 have been built and fitted out ~ and were actually stored alongside the existing Qantas 11 in the desert. Two are fully painted and 1 remains partially painted, suggesting that this frame may be a special livery, when delivered. 

Yes, I would totally agree that the Australian market is the one place in the world where you would NOT hand a competitive advantage to other A380 operators. So, for QF to be 6 months behind the rest of the market would be foolish indeed. Somehow, I suspect that when international opens, it will open with an avalanche of bookings. Those bookings are not happening quite so quickly now, given the prior (and existing) uncertainty about the possibility of state border closures.

Given that there are STILL some 40,000 Australians overseas registered with Australian consulates waiting to return home, there will be a ready-made market .. which is best served by A380's .. to get these poor buggers back to their homeland. And the signs from the industry are already there: the first few November London flights sold out in hours. It is also reported that, due to the number of stranded Aussies overseas, that Australians seeking to leave Australia in Nov / Dec will have no problems getting away, but may well have substantial problems securing return seats, particularly during the December-February period.

I'd be checking those refurbed first 6 frames out and readying them for one a month return right now. The other six should be being prepared for refit of the new interiors - and god forbid, international grade WiFi which if not fitted now, will probably never be fitted. The first 6 could then be retro-fitted with WiFi over a few months towards the end of 2022.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2016

Total posts 52

The big question now is if they will bring forward flights to Manila and Jakarta that would fill with expat wives and kids coming back early for Christmas.

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Aug 2018

Total posts 105

Noting the discussion above about the risk of catching Covid either on the plane or where ever you land and ship from to return, let me add to my previous comments (above) if the demand for international rickets  is as high as many are to believe, will Q be able to cope with the influx with their A330 and B 787's. Noting the AJ has proven to be a cautious CEO he may well want to have a minimum of 2 x A380's handy to maximise the sale of Y tickets and from my perspective,  plenty of J tickets for London and LA. Wishful thinking but.......?


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