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Qantas A380 could be first to return as it leaves LAX storage

written by Hannah Dowling | August 25, 2021
File photo of Qantas A380-400 VH-OQB at Sydney Airport in 2012 (Rob Finlayson)

The return of Qantas’ A380s to the skies has moved a step closer after one of the aircraft was flown from storage at LAX to a facility in Dresden, Germany, for maintenance ahead of a planned refurbishment.

VH-OQB is one of just two of Qantas’ superjumbos that were grounded at a purpose-built A380 hangar at LAX, rather than stored at the Victorville ‘boneyard’ in the California desert.

The move suggests it could be among the first of Qantas’ 12 A380s to return to regular passenger service, after being in storage since March 2020.

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For the first time since then, VH-OQB took to the skies at 1:54pm on 19 August as flight QF6013, and took the 11-hour journey to Dresden Airport in Germany.

The plane was moved in order to undergo a scheduled landing gear update, according to Qantas, and will remain in storage at Dresden Airport, before undergoing a refurbishment ahead of its planned return to service.

Despite sending the majority of the airline’s A380 fleet to long-term storage in the desert, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has repeatedly stated that the carrier will look to reactivate its entire fleet of A380s when the pandemic subsides.

In April, Joyce said each aircraft could potentially come back into service in as little as “three to six months”.

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Earlier, in February, the Qantas chief executive said 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.

“We have reconfigured six of them with brand new product onboards. In fact, one aircraft just being reconfigured flew directly to the Mojave Desert,” said Joyce at the time.

“It’s there with new seats on it and that nobody’s ever sat on, which is unbelievably disappointing. But we do think if you look at the Qantas’ network, there are going to be opportunities to deploy those aircraft.

“We do have scheduling windows, because if you if you’ve ever been in LA, at between 10 o’clock and midnight, you see six or seven Qantas aircraft departing to Australia, because it’s the only time that works with curfews, so instead of flying multiple frequencies right on top of each other.

“An A380, that’s fully or nearly fully written down, if it generates cash, will absolutely work. Airports that have slot restrictions, like Heathrow, where a slot is extremely expensive, then the aircraft works for that. And the similar scheduling windows that worked for Australia are unique.

“So we do believe there’s a need for that fleet. And we do believe that it will generate cash. And it’s all going to be about cash when we start up international [flights].”

VH-OQB was one of just two of Qantas’ 12 A380s that weren’t sent into storage at the notorious Victorville ‘boneyard’ in the California desert, the other being VH-OQD. Both were instead grounded at Qantas’ purpose-built A380 hangar at LAX.

In March, one of the Qantas A380s stored at Victorville left the boneyard bound for LAX in order to undergo maintenance.

VH-OQC msn 022 departed Victorville on 20 May at 12:55am as flight QF6011 and landed at LAX at 1:39am.

The aircraft remained stored at LAX until 20 June, and has since been moved into storage at Abu Dhabi International Airport.

5 Comments

  • Warwick

    says:

    QANTAS has always had their plan in place to return their A380’s, into service.

    That maybe as Fed Govt Repat Charters’, or other uses’.

    This news item sure puts the naysayers out of action.

  • John Phillips

    says:

    OQB. Would that be the second A380 that QF put into service from the initial order?

    • Vannus

      says:

      Yes, John, that’s correct.
      It’s the ‘Hudson Fysh’, named after one of the founders’ of QANTAS, in 1920.

  • Evan

    says:

    It’d be interesting to know the logistical arrangements that enable such a flight.

  • James Smith

    says:

    Since March 2020 VH-OQB has flown a one hour test flight on 14 May, 2020 and a 2 hour 46 minute test flight on 17 August, 2021 just prior to leaving for Dresden.

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