More distressing images have emerged showing one of Qantas’ A380s being dismantled at the Victorville boneyard in California.
Jetphotos posted these new photos online that show VH-OQF being seemingly prepared for scrap.
— JetPhotos (@JetPhotos) July 5, 2022
Australian Aviation understands that the plane will be scrapped for spare parts, which themselves will be stored across Qantas’s dedicated A380 facilities at LAX and Sydney Airport.
VH-OQF, named after famous early Australian aviator Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, was delivered to Qantas on 8 January 2010, and became the sixth A380 to enter into the fleet. It performed its first passenger service from Sydney–Los Angeles as QF11 on 17 January 2010.
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 last year, confirmed its intentions to return 10 of its 12 Airbus A380s to passenger service and retire the remaining two.
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 weeks 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 other 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’s routes between Sydney, Los Angeles and Singapore.
From 19 June, Qantas resumed 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 the iconic Qantas A380 fleet, following the decided end of the Airbus A380 program, after Airbus finally delivered its last-ever A380 to Emirates.