Emirates to repaint Qantas A380s

Eight of Qantas’s 12 A380s will be repainted by Emirates in Dubai. (Rob Finlayson)

Eight Qantas Airbus A380s will be repainted in the airline’s new livery by Emirates Engineering.

Beginning in March 2018 the aircraft will be stripped and repainted at the Emirates Aircraft Appearance Centre in Dubai, which Emirates says is the largest aircraft painting facility in the world owned by an airline. In 2017 that facility repainted no fewer than 38 aircraft, as well as installing special decals on Emirates A380 and 777 aircraft.

“As the largest operator of Airbus A380s with over 100 aircraft in our fleet, Emirates Engineering has built strong expertise over the years in the maintenance and repainting of this aircraft type,” Mohammed Jaffar Nasser, Emirates senior vice president of engineering maintenance, said in a statement on Monday.

“Our goal is to promote Dubai as a centre of excellence for Airbus A380 maintenance. We have the knowledge, infrastructure, competence and the confidence to achieve this goal.”

Qantas and Emirates Airline already have an extensive commercial alliance in place, while Emirates says the new aircraft painting agreement “heralds the start of collaboration in the areas of maintenance and engineering”.

The new deal will also see Emirates replace the landing gear on one Qantas A380 in February.

Emirates says it is the “most experienced” A380 maintenance, repair and overhaul provider in the world, having completed 110 C-Checks on the aircraft to date. Currently Qantas sends its A380s to Lufthansa Technik in the Philippines for heavy maintenance checks.

Interestingly the A380s will be repainted in Dubai just as Qantas withdraws from operating there with its own aircraft.

Currently Qantas flies twice daily to Dubai en route to London with flights originating in Melbourne and Sydney. But in late March Qantas’s Melbourne-London flights will switch to operating via Perth with the Boeing 787-9, while Sydney-London flights will return to operating via Singapore.

Qantas announced its new livery in October 2016.

“Updating branding on aircraft will be sequenced with scheduled re-paints, to be completed in time for the airline’s centenary in 2020,” Qantas said at the time.

To date A330-300s have been repainted in Victorville, California, while some 737-800s have been repainted in Seletar, Singapore, Fokker 100s have been repainted in Seletar and with Douglas Aerospace in Wagga Wagga, and some Dash 8 Q300s and Q400s have been repainted by Flying Colours in Townsville.

With Qantas operating 12 A380s, it is not clear where the remaining four aircraft will be repainted.


  1. Broderick says

    I heard prior to the New Year (via a Qantas Mechanic) that some A380’s will be phased out by 2020. Whether this is actually happening or not who knows but not to repaint 4 x A380’s sounds interesting.

  2. Craigy says

    According tot he Qantas Source, the following aircraft have been repainted:

    A333 – QPH, QPI, QPJ
    F100 – NHF, NHP, NHQ
    DH8D – QOA, QOB

    B738 VYK has entered the repaint shop in Townsville

  3. Craigy says

    @ Broderick Interesting news from the mechanic. Last year at Qantas’ full yearly results, Qantas announced a cabin upgrade for all 12 aircraft beginning in 2019 and finished by end of 2020. Plans change of course but maybe 8 is all Emirates could fit in for the available time Qantas could release the jets from revenue service.

  4. Craigy says

    @ Trash Hauler I believe that the 6 B744 ER will be retained until their replacement either the B778 or A350ULR starts entering service, so I expect these aircraft will have the new livery.

  5. Bruce Hopkins says

    Once again jobs that can be done in Australia is being done over seas

    The Australian Government should step in and get this reversed but they won’t

  6. Dale says

    @Bruce Hopkins

    What aircraft paint shop in Australia has the capacity to repaint an Airbus A380?

    Might be worth some fact checking before you make such comments.

  7. Andrew says

    Currently a majority of Qantas 737 are being painted at flying colours aviation in Townsville

  8. Stephen says

    Met a German guy who flew in a Qantas A380 about a week ago – he said. It was the most Run. Dow.n plane he had ever flown on..

    Yes it’s a shame that most qantas maintenance is carried out in places where labour is cheap. Good for those workers but not good for jobs in OZ

  9. Alpha141 says

    With the painting and interior refit…Are Qantas a380s due for heavy maintenance C-Checks also? Makes sense doing it all at once if they are in the one place. I think the interiors are later (so not all lined up)..but would be a very efficient way to do it if they are. Alot of complex things going on with all these for sure. There was a great documentary series about Dubai Airport which included exploring their maintenance works also. Well worth going out and looking for as their setups are really outstanding.

    I get the thought that they might reduce the fleet. Does that go with Qantas history though of holding on to older craft and depreciating them down over time to reduce tax and debt free scenarios? You see they don’t go into debt but reduce it. They also prepare the market well for future decisions. Don’t really have to many surprises. So have stated about the refit etc clearly in the past. The fleet has been a bit stretched also with some technical issues causing delays etc. Perhaps the focus will be Hong Kong / China region where congestion is heaviest and return trips can be timed for maximum billable time.and focusing more on premium stuff but reducing the overall stretching of fleet at the same time. So, i would say having some spare capacity for issue build into inventory numbers is a better case here.for the perception management focusing on premium too.

    Just some thoughts

    The series is called ‘Ultimate Dubai Airport’ and is accessible on YouTube if you guys are interested. You will get an appreciation for the scales of these operations. As aviation buffs also…really wonderful.

  10. Sean says

    So Qantas send their A380s to the Philippines for heavy maintenance. I presume they fly empty to the Philippines as I only know them to fly the A330s to Manila.

  11. Les says

    Just flown Sydney-Dallas on the 380. I would be spending my money on the interior now rather than painting. Cabin is looking very tired…

  12. Patrickk says

    Sean I think you will find most maintainence flights are flown empty as it is too complicated to fly a one way flight – crews etc. permissions etc.

  13. Don Roberts says

    Emirates painting our Qantas A 380,s in Dubai??? Really? Absolute nonsense.
    If Donald Trump was our President no way would he stand around and let this happen.

  14. Australiana says

    So they’re definitely painting them in the new Qantas colours? Not….. Emirates colours?

  15. Craigy says

    @ Sean. Yes the A380s fly empty to Manila and return. With the SYD – LHR route going via SIN in the near future, the opportunity to swap aircraft over in SIN becomes a possibility. Just like they do with the B738s on the PTH – SIN route when they have maintenance and/or repaint in Manila.

  16. Stu Bee says

    As an armchair critic of anything that takes my fancy, I demand that the govt steps in and builds a purpose built paint hangar for the 12 Qantas A380’s. How dare Qantas expect its patrons to fly in an aircraft with non-australian paint…

    Please take this comment as satire

  17. James says

    @ Bruce Hopkins

    Why is it always the governments fault?

    What facility in AUS can handle an aircraft that size for a repaint?

    Maybe doing it there is cheaper?

  18. Dave says

    Oh I just love the ‘jobs in Australia’ comments. As warm n fuzzy as the thought is, I can see more holes than James Reason’s Swiss cheese model.
    There is a grand total of One hangar in Oz that can fully enclose a single A380. It takes at least a couple of weeks to sand back / strip, prepare & paint a plane of this size, so what does the rest of the fleet do for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance in the mean time?. The hangar is not designed for painting and is probably not approved for painting anything but a small repair as well as the specialist workforce required can’t be downloaded overnight in Sydney. The staff that used to paint the big birds in Sydney have long moved on. We aren’t talking about some small plane here.
    And then there’s the price…….
    Time to put reality tonic into the drinking water supply.

  19. Scott says

    So you say “only in Australia for maintenance”
    I’m guessing then you only book travel with QF and VA metal exclusively, no trips with overseas carriers ever :-), Ps this is tongue and cheek.

  20. Dave says

    I think if the words ‘overseas maintenance’ and ‘Australian jobs’ are mentioned in the same comment the commenter should be banned. Its total nonsensical rubbish. Its not the role of aussies to paint things, its aussies role to criticise the outcome and blame the government.

  21. Craigy says

    @ Lechuga I am guessing the reason why B789 are replacing A380s on some days in Feb is that one A380 is going to Dubai to have its landing gear replaced.

  22. Paul Merritt says

    Readers there is a little bit more than simply finding a hangar big enough to paint an A380 in. The hangar must be able to handle and dispose of hazardous materials in an environmentally friendly way. Have a specificly designed gantry system in place to handle an A380. Must be temperature controlled and pressurised to prevent inferior painting and have sufficient fire and rescue services on site. Does that exist anywhere in Australia?

  23. Rocket says

    @ Stephen… ‘some German guy’… really… and we’re all going to take that as fact???

    Secondly, best to do some research before you start writing… Qantas’ entire fleet of B747-238Bs were maintained by United Air Lines in SFO for several years before the fleet got large enough to justify maintenance in Australia. This is unlikely to ever happen with the A380 as it will likely never go beyond 12 aircraft and some of them will probably be retired a lot sooner than is normal so no, it’s not some sort of scandal that this is being done overseas.

    Besides, Emirates paint A380s all the time, they have the expertise. Why not go to someone with a good reputation for painting quality who are fully familiar with the aircraft. No doubt the whole thing will be overseen and signed off by Qantas Engineers anyway.