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Photos: First Qantas A380 to be scrapped

written by Hannah Dowling | June 14, 2022

Archival photo of VH-OQF departing for Sydney and Singapore as QF31. (Andrew McLaughlin)

New photos have surfaced that appear to confirm which Qantas A380 will be the first to be retired and scrapped, while the airline’s first superjumbo, VH-OQA, appears to have avoided an early retirement.

According to the photos, taken by Twitter user @speedbird020 in the Victorville plane storage “boneyard”, VH-OQF has already started to be dismantled.

Australian Aviation understands that the plane will be scrapped for spare parts, which themselves will be stored across Qantas’ dedicated A380 facilities at LAX and Sydney Airport.

VH-OQF, named after famous early Australian aviator Sir Charles Kingsford Smithwas delivered to Qantas on 8 January 2010, and became the sixth A380 to enter into the fleet.

VH-OQF performed its first passenger service from Sydney–Los Angeles as QF11 on 17 January 2010.

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Notably, in March 2018, VH-OQF became the first Qantas A380 to sport the airline’s new “Silver Roo” livery, after being repainted at the Emirates Aircraft Appearance Centre in Dubai.

In July 2020, Charles Kingsford Smith was ferried directly to Victorville, and has remained there since.

It comes after Qantas, in August, confirmed its intentions to return 10 of its 12 Airbus A380s to passenger service, and retire the remaining two.

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Meanwhile, VH-OQE is expected to be the second and final A380 to be retired, suggesting the airline’s oldest and most notorious jet, VH-OQA, could be retained by Qantas.

In a poll collected by Australian Aviation last year, which gave readers the chance to guess which Qantas superjumbos are likely destined to be grounded for life, a vast majority of readers voted that VH-OQA was most likely to be retired early.

In fact, more than half of all votes cast in the poll across all 12 aircraft went to VH-OQA, with readers believing Nancy-Bird Walton could enjoy an early retirement, perhaps at the HARS Aviation Museum, or Qantas Founders Museum.

The news on the fate of VH-OQF comes one week after Qantas reinstated its flagship Airbus A380 aircraft on its Melbourne to Los Angeles route, after bringing its fourth A380 out of the California desert and returning it to passenger service.

VH-OQJ was removed from the Victorville “boneyard” – where five Qantas A380s still remain – on 8 April and moved to LAX. Late last month, it was moved to Sydney before being ferried to Melbourne on 6 June ahead of its first passenger service in over two years.

VH-OQD and VH-OQK also remain in regular passenger service on Qantas’ routes to between Sydney and Los Angeles.

From 19 June, Qantas will also resume operating its flagship QF1 route from Sydney to London via Singapore, as opposed to Darwin, using one of its newly refurbished A380s.

Of the 12 Qantas A380s, three are currently in Abu Dhabi to have their interior cabins refurbished – VH-OQB, VH-OQC and VH-OQH.

Qantas said the refurbished aircraft feature a “reconfigured business class cabin, with 70 updated business suites, and an extended premium economy section with 60 seats, up from 35, as well as refreshed economy and first cabins”.

The iconic upper deck lounge will also now include booth-style seating for 10 people, a self-service bar and the ability to order “signature drinks and snacks”.

The Flying Kangaroo had initially intended to keep its 12 A380s mothballed in the California desert until late 2023. However, in light of Australia’s fast-paced vaccination rollout, the airline later announced it would bring five of the 12 back by mid-2022.

Despite this, Qantas has said it will only bring 10 of its 12 jets, and is set to soon retire two of its A380s early, despite earlier predictions stating all 12 will come back into service.

It marks the beginning of the end of Qantas’ iconic A380 fleet, following the decided end of the Airbus A380 program, after Airbus finally delivered its last-ever A380 to Emirates.

Comments (4)

  • Jason

    says:

    Anyone have any thoughts on what previous A380 service is permanently going to an alternate aircraft type, freeing up 2 aircraft which are being retired. I’m thinking QF7/8 going to 787’s, with the new Melbourne/Dallas service getting the same and picking up the lost capacity ex Sydney but interested in other theory’s.

  • Greg Guzzler

    says:

    The A380 would need to be of historical significance to go to HARS or even the founders, to suggest it would take place next to a jumbo, connie or a 707 is comical . It was a flop and deserves to be made into coke cans.

  • ROBERT

    says:

    VH-OQA SHOULD BE THE FIRST AIRCRAFT TO LAND AT THE NEW NANCY BIRD WALTON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT WHEN IT OPENS. I CANT THINK OF A MORE FITTING WAY TO OPEN IT THAN THAT

  • Craigy

    says:

    From memory, not all 12 were active so there were at least 2 spares and allowed for maintenance. The QF1/2 daily service will require 3 aircraft, QF11/12 and QF93/94 4 aircraft. That makes 7. QF7/8 requires 2 aircraft and that would leave one aircraft if the QF35/36 service to Singapore doesn’t revert to the A380.

    As for the B789, 3 aircraft are required for the daily QF9/10. At least two will be required for the Rome services, 2 for the JoBurg services and perhaps 2 for the Santiago services. That accounts for 9 of the current 11 aircraft. Melbourne – Dallas will need up to 2 so that’s all 11. They really need the remaining 3 to be delivered when Boeing gets their act together.

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