Qantas has again announced that its flagship Airbus A380s will return to service sooner than previously expected, with the first superjumbos expected to return to regular passenger flights by April 2022.
In order to meet the new fast-tracked target, the carrier stated at least one A380 will be returned to Australian shores from long-term storage by the end of this year to begin the necessary preparations to get the aircraft and staff ready for flight.
It comes after the airline announced in August that it would accelerate the A380s’ return – previously flagged to return to service in 2023 – with five aircraft scheduled to fly between Sydney and LA from July 2022, and between Sydney and London, via Singapore, from November 2022.
Now, Qantas will see two of its four-engined jets operate to Los Angeles as soon as April, three months ahead of its previous announcement.
A further three superjumbos will return to service from mid-November 2022, Qantas said, with the remaining five to be gradually welcomed back by early 2024.
Qantas said it is also looking to bring forward delivery of three brand new 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, currently in storage with Boeing, several months earlier than planned as demand increases.
Meanwhile, Jetstar will bring the remaining five of its 11 Boeing 787-8s out of storage in Alice Springs over the coming months, and welcome its first three A321neo LR aircraft, also from FY23.
“Our customers and crew love flying on our flagship A380s, so news that they will be back flying to Los Angeles again from April next year will be very welcome. The Federal government’s support to ensure our aircraft and people are ready to resume once borders reopen has been critical,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said.
In total, Qantas expects 10 of its 12 A380s to be back to performing regularly scheduled services by early 2024, while the remaining two are to be retired.
All 10 returning A380s will have their interiors refurbished prior to their return to service.
In August, Australian Aviation revealed that one of Qantas’ A380s was flown from storage at LAX to a facility in Dresden, Germany, for maintenance ahead of its 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’ A380s to return to regular passenger service, after being in storage since March 2020.
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, Joyce has repeatedly stated that the carrier will look to reactivate its entire fleet of A380s when the pandemic subsides.
It comes as Qantas dramatically brought forward its planned restart of flights to numerous international destinations.
The airline announced on Friday that it will bring forward its planned return to flights from Australia to Singapore, Fiji, Johannesburg, Phuket and Bangkok, as well as introduce a brand-new direct route between Sydney and Delhi.
The decision comes after NSW Premier Dominic Perrottett announced last week that fully vaccinated overseas arrivals would no longer be required to perform any form of quarantine when returning to the state.
Qantas stated that this decision to axe all quarantine requirements for double-jabbed Australians has significantly increased demand for overseas travel, allowing for a faster ramp-up in international operations than previously planned.
The airline’s new route from Sydney to Delhi will begin on 6 December 2021, with three planned return flights per week on its Airbus A330 aircraft, with capacity expected to build to daily flights on this route by the end of the year – subject to regulatory approvals from Indian authorities.
Flights from Sydney to Delhi will involve one layover in Darwin, while the Delhi to Sydney leg will be nonstop.
The route will continue until at least late March 2022, however, this could become a permanent part of Qantas’ international network, should demand require.
Meanwhile Qantas has dramatically brought forward its planned flights to a number of international destinations.
The airline will begin flying Sydney to Singapore from 23 November, four weeks earlier than planned. Initially, this service will be three times per week on A330 aircraft, which will ramp up to daily from 18 December.
Jetstar will also begin flying from both Melbourne and Darwin to Singapore from 16 December.
Qantas has also stated flights from Sydney to Fiji will be brought forward to 7 December 2021, 12 days earlier than previously announced. It will begin flying four return flights per week on a Boeing 737.
Meanwhile, Jetstar will resume flights to Fiji from 17 December.
Qantas will perform three return flights per week from Sydney to Johannesburg from 5 January 2022, three months earlier than scheduled on its Boeing 787 Dreamliner, as well as five return flights per week to Bangkok on its A330s from 14 January 2022, two months ahead of schedule.
The airline will also return to Phuket on 12 January 2022, over two months earlier than planned, and perform three return flights per week on its Dreamliner.