The first Qantas Group aircraft will leave the Alice Springs boneyard imminently, Australian Aviation can reveal.
Up to five Jetstar 787-8s stored at the desert storage facility will be redeployed to fly longer-range domestic routes from 1 June.
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Jetstar today confirmed that three 787s, usually flown on international routes, will initially be brought back to service, with that number possibly rising to five. It marks a significant moment in the industry’s recovery from the pandemic.
The 350-seat aircraft will fly routes including:
- Melbourne – Gold Coast from 1 June
- Melbourne – Cairns from 25 June
- Sydney – Cairns from 1 July
- Sydney – Gold Coast from 1 July
Aviation enthusiasts can book their flights now on Jetstar.com.
Most of Qantas’ larger A380s are stored in the US, with the last of the model flying to a Californian desert boneyard in September.
There had been much speculation as to whether they would fly again, but Qantas Group chief executive Alan Joyce said on Wednesday that he believes his airline will reactivate its entire fleet of 12 A380s when the pandemic subsides.
He added that if demand returns early, each aircraft could potentially come back into service in as little as “three to six months”.
Speaking to the CAPA Centre for Aviation, Joyce on Wednesday said, “We have luckily enough been replacing the bigger aircraft with the 787 … and the 787 is such a good aircraft. It can replace entire A380s, 747s in terms of range [and] costs are even better than an A380.”
Joyce’s vote of confidence in Airbus’ flagship comes after he said in February that it was “heartbreaking” to see the fleet stored in the Mojave Desert and insisted that curfews and expensive airport slots meant flying them will still be profitable.
The final A380 to depart to the desert was VH-OQI msn 055, which departed Dresden maintenance facility in Germany as flight QF6006 at 10:36am on 25 September 2020. It landed at the Victorville, California, facility 11 hours later.
In June 2020, the Qantas Group announced it would ground 100 aircraft for up to 12 months, including most of its international fleet.
The business said then 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.
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.
Australian Aviation reported in September how the Alice Springs boneyard was reaching its new expanded capacity of 100 aircraft after the Northern Territory government invested $3.5 million into the site in July.
The state made the investment, which included building new roads to ensure the facility’s capacity could be quickly doubled, to help create 55 local jobs.
Tom Vincent, who owns the Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage (APAS) maintenance facility, previously told the ABC that parking spaces were “definitely in demand”.
“As soon as extra spots for storage come online, there are aircraft filling those spots,” Vincent said.