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‘Strike-breaking’ Qantas A380 returns to active service

written by Adam Thorn | April 6, 2023

Seth Jaworski shot this Qantas A380, VH-OQL, in Sydney, before it went into storage.

Qantas has finally welcomed back its seventh A380 into active service after it left the Victorville desert boneyard in December.

VH-OQL is now flying between Sydney and Hong Kong after it was initially used to mitigate the effects of a strike by refuellers at Melbourne Airport earlier in March.

The Flying Kangaroo grounded its entire fleet of 12 A380s during the pandemic, with most sent to the Californian desert.

The business has been slowly returning them to commercial flying, though plans to scrap two permanently.

As of 6 April, Qantas now has seven A380s back flying commercially: VH-OQB, VH-OQD, VH-OQH, VH-OQK, VH-OQJ, VH-OQG, and VH-OQL.


Of the rest, VH-OCQ remains in the US; VH-OQA and VH-OQI are currently in Abu Dhabi receiving a cabin upgrade; and VH-OQF has already been dismantled, with rumours it will be joined on the scrap heap by VH-OQE.

A Qantas A380 made national news in December 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.

Meanwhile, Australian Aviation reported last month how Emirates relaunched its daily service from Sydney to Christchurch using its A380s — the only flight across the ditch to use the super jumbo.

The airline also restarted its daily Melbourne–Singapore–Dubai service as EK404/405 using its Boeing 777-300ERs.

“Our Melbourne–Singapore–Dubai service will offer travellers a strong connection opportunity between two global travel hubs, providing access to substantial leisure and business activities, plus fantastic onwards links to and through Dubai,” said Barry Brown, divisional vice-president Australasia at Emirates.

“We also welcome back our Sydney–Christchurch service, a favourite for travellers between New Zealand and Australia. As the only A380 experience between the sister countries across the Trans-Tasman, passengers will be able to take advantage of Emirates’ signature experience, including a superior first and business class offering, plus our highly popular premium economy cabin, one of the best in the air.”


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Comments (4)

  • OCQ, you really mean OQC, flew from Los Angeles to Abu Dhabi on 20 June, 2021 and has been there since. All three QANTAS A380s that haven’t returned to service, but will be, are currently in Abu Dhabi.

    • Adam Thorn


      Very good spot! I actually just noticed that myself. It had slipped off FlightRadar, but I found it on Flightaware.

      Thanks for the heads-up.


  • Rick Cook


    Why is my comment still in moderation ? And a later comment by someone else acknowledged. And I am guessing you used my notice to you to write an “exclusive” article about the fate of OQE wrt the picture link I supplied. Poor form AA. And by the way you might care to note that OQE and OQF have both been removed off the register.

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