Qantas has deployed one of its 485-seat A380s to fly across the Tasman to help customers who saw their services cancelled earlier this week because of storm Gabrielle.
The Flying Kangaroo was forced to cancel or turn back services on Tuesday when Auckland Airport suspended all operations later in the day .
The A380, VH-OQJ, departed Sydney at 10:53 am on Wednesday as flight QF143 and landed in Auckland at 3:32 pm.
The ‘superjumbo’ aircraft provides far more capacity than the usual 737-800s that carry 174 passengers or A330s that carry 251 passengers.
Qantas’ A380s usually only fly to longer haul destinations such as Dallas/Fort Worth, Hong Kong, LA, Singapore and London.
Former tropical cyclone Gabrielle made landfall on the North Island on Sunday night, causing severe winds that brought down trees and power lines.
Already, four people are now confirmed dead, but local police have received 1,400 reports of uncontactable people.
The Flying Kangaroo grounded its entire fleet of 12 A380s during the pandemic, with most sent to the Victorville desert boneyard.
The business has been slowly returning them to active service, though plans to permanently scrap two.
VH-OQB, VH-OQD, VH-OQH, VH-OQK, VH-OQJ and now VH-OQG have returned to active operations, but VH-OQC and VH-OQI remain in the US.
VH-OQA is currently in Abu Dhabi, where it’s receiving a cabin upgrade, while VH-OQL recently returned from the UAE city, too.
VH-OQF has already been dismantled, with speculation that it will be joined on the scrap heap by VH-OQE.
A Qantas A380 made national news at Christmas when one en route to London made an emergency landing in Baku.
The incident happened after a sensor light alerted pilots to the possibility of smoke in the cargo hold days before Christmas.
The aircraft turned around above Tbilisi, Georgia, before touching down in Azerbaijan.
Investigations later revealed no evidence of smoke, meaning the incident was due to a fault with the sensor and a false alarm.
Qantas dispatched a recovery flight, which landed in the British capital on Christmas Day.
The grounded aircraft, VH-OQH, was later deemed safe to fly and returned to commercial service days later.
VH-OQA, Qantas’ first A380, was involved in arguably Australian aviation’s most serious-ever safety incident, when its Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine exploded shortly after it took off, causing a major fire in November 2010. It subsequently returned to service.