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Qantas will boost its Airbus A380 fleet to a total of nine early next year with the delivery of two new factory-fresh superjumbos, bringing the airline almost halfway to its total order of 20.
This month’s arrival of the seventh A380 from the Airbus facility at Toulouse has already allowed Qantas to return five superjumbos to services between Sydney, Singapore and London in time for the peak January season and the post-holiday shift to business travel.
Only two A380s now remain in the hanger awaiting replacement or repairs to the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 powerplant, which was responsible for grounding Qantas’ entire fleet after the November 4 engine explosion on QF32 (for which the engine manufacturer could find itself writing Qantas a cheque of more than $200 million in compensation).
However, there appears little likelihood that the A380s will return to the Sydney-Los Angeles route next month.
Although flight schedules lodged by Qantas with industry-wide ticketing systems indicated the A380 would re-enter limited trans-Pacific service from Tuesday January 18, 2011, Qantas is still working with Rolls-Royce to overcome what the airline describes as “operational restrictions”.
These prevent Qantas from applying the maximum engine thrust needed for a fully-laden A380 aircraft to depart LAX due to the high fuel load required for the non-stop 14 hour flight, the relatively short runways at LAX, and increased headwinds during local departure times in order to accommodate Sydney airport's 6am curfew.