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Trip to boneyard signals last Qantas A380 flight for years

written by Adam Thorn | September 28, 2020

A Qantas Airbus A380 in the hangar. (Qantas)
A Qantas Airbus A380 in the hangar. (Qantas)

Qantas’ A380 fleet may have seen its final international flight for three years after the last of the models being refurbished flew to a Californian desert boneyard on Friday.

The airline announced months ago that all 12 of its A380s would enter hibernation, with six of those being upgraded beforehand.

The Qantas A380, VH-OQI msn 055, departed Dresden maintenance facility in Germany as flight QF6006 at 10:36am on 25 September. It landed at the Victorville, California, facility 11 hours later.


According to the website Planespotter, which has been tracking aircraft hibernations, 10 of its fleet are now in the desert, with two residing at a special Qantas hangar at LAX.

In June, the Qantas Group announced it would ground 100 aircraft for up to 12 months, including most of its international fleet.

It said there was “significant uncertainty” as to when flying levels will support the return of the A380, and revealed it would defer deliveries of A321neo and 787-9.

“As a result, the carrying value of the A380 fleet, spare engines and spare parts will be written down to their fair value,” Qantas said.

Chief executive Alan Joyce added that the A380s “have to remain on the ground for at least three years until we see those international volumes brought back”.

“The aircraft are being put into the Mojave Desert, where the environment protects the aircraft (because) we have the intention at the right time to restart them, but that is a considerable amount of time away,” Joyce said.

The six that are being refurbished are being upgraded with new business class seats and inflight lounges, and are likely to be among the first to come back when the A380 finally returns.

“There is a potential to bring all 12 [A380s] back, but there is a potential to bring less than 12 back,” Joyce said in May, when he announced the review.

The news marks a turnaround from October 2019, when Australian Aviation reported how Qantas welcomed back its first Airbus A380 featuring a refurbished cabin including new business class seats, a new lounge on the upper deck and more premium seating.

The reconfiguration program, first announced in August 2017, was being managed by Airbus, which said at the time the new interior took advantage of the A380’s large floor area to “most efficiently embody Qantas’ latest seat products for business class and premium economy”.

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Comments (19)

  • Richard Stevens


    Can anyone tell me why our aircraft are sent to a California boneyard when we have a world class boneyard in our desert?

    • G


      Mainly because Mojave’s weather is perfect to keep metal as it’s humidity is very low preventing rust.

  • Doug


    Such a pity to see such a magnificent aircraft shelved out of necessity. The b best flying experience from a customer perspective.

  • Barrie Smeaton


    Why wouldn’t you refurbish these aircraft when you need them

  • Gary


    Lets face it, they are good jets but lemons as far as being able to fill and make a profit from. Sell them now… get what you can.

  • Hi Richard;
    I suspect it is cheaper to store Qantas aircraft in the Boneyard in California or Rosewell jin New Mexico (where some aircraft are now located). But I believe that Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and Scott basically got in first to “reserve spaces at Alice Springs Airpark).

    What I am a bit surprised about is that Airports such as YPKG have not also been considered as possible AirParks orYLTN which is a low-use airport found 1 nautical mile (1.9 km; 1.2 mi) northeast[1] from the main area of Laverton with an operational and storage capacity of 19 medium-sized planes;

  • James


    @ Richard Stevens

    Who knows? That’s QF’s business. It could be numerous things; They may have a long term contract? Cost. Perhaps it’s cheaper?

    @ Barrie

    Maybe they are taking advantage of the quiet time and have them ready instead of worrying about scheduling them in for refurb right when it’s busy and they may be required.

    You clearly have no real operational aviation experience.

  • teiemka


    Gary there is no secondary market even before COVID, if QF can’t fill them no one else can. What to make of what will happen to EK’s fleet?

  • As to why QF didnt store its A380s at ASP instead of an expensive ferry all the way to VCV! I think QF werent quick enough to realise the situation and CX, SQ and a few others were, and booked the spots. When the decision was taken to cease flying them, two were in Dresden for cabin upgrades, one was in AUH for maint. and two others were in LAX. But QF could have sent the other seven to ASP, saved a bucket load of dollars. The last 6 747s OEE-OEJ were sent to MHV as that facility, as well as long term storage, is also a scrapping ( or parting out as our US friends call it) whereas ASP is purely storage. QF say they dont expect the A380s back in service til 2023…time will tell.

  • Vannus


    To Richard, Barrie & Gary……in order…..

    The ASP facility is currently full. The NT Govt has released funds to them to expand, but this’ll take time. It has NO engineering facility there.
    The US facility not only has much room, but it also has Engineering Facilities. QANTAS has its’ own aircraft engineers’ there, & at LAX, so the aeroplanes’ can be readied rapidly for flight.

    It’s cheaper to refurbish aircraft now, rather than wait x amount of time into the future. With refurbishments now done, aircraft will be ready to fly.

    Nobody is buying aeroplanes’ currently, even if they’re second-hand. Until the world aviation starts being somewhat ‘normal’, which may take up to a decade to realise, no sales will be made.

  • shsgh


    It’s to do with Qantas having A380 (and 787) maintenance support available nearby from LAX. Also, those, or at least some of those A380s will probably never fly again and Alice Springs doesn’t have salvaging capability.

  • Thies Schaper


    If Qantas is not having passengers and flights for them, who else ? Practically every A380 user is either disposing of or mothballing them.

  • Adam


    Richard, the Alice Springs boneyard is full already. Coincidently there is an AA article about the yard that was released yesterday.

  • Mike


    Jeff Dixon’s legacy! At the time 777 were the way to go, not 380’s – thanks Jeff?

  • Ben


    Yeah right. Sell to who? And take about a $1B hit to book value in the process? This is why aircraft go to the desert.

  • Lincoln


    To Mike above….

    If your going to denigrate someone, at least spell their name correctly……

    It’s GEOFF Dixon….

  • Raymond


    To Lincoln above…
    If you’re going to correct someone, at least spell “you’re” correctly. Also, an ellipsis contains three periods, not four or six.

  • Lincoln


    To Raymond above…..

    I’ll put in as many ‘dots’ as I want in my comment!
    YOU’RE not taking into account current, convenient spelling way, so better catch-up……..
    It’s wrong, & disrespectful, to spell a person’s name incorrectly, on any occasion.

  • John Pressley


    It is so sad to see them retired early. I have flown in an A380 twice and I think they are magnificent aircraft.

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