Portuguese wet lease carrier Hi Fly is set to retire its only Airbus A380 aircraft later this year. The aircraft is unique in that it is the only A380 to have been used in a second-hand capacity, rather than being scrapped. The retirement will come as a blow to the already non-existent second-hand A380 market.
While the Airbus A380 is a great aircraft, there is no doubt that it was released at the wrong time. The giant plane only ever got 251 firm orders during the entirety of its program. Meanwhile, some airlines are retiring models that are less than ten years old.
Hi Fly today revealed that its sole Airbus A380, 9H-MIP, will be retired at the end of its three year lease period. According to Planespotters.net, the aircraft was delivered to Hi Fly in July 2018. However, it was withdrawn from use by Singapore Airlines on November 6th, 2017.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.
It seems as though COVID has killed the Hi Fly Airbus A380 as the airline stated the decision not to renew its contract was a direct result of the current pandemic. The demand for enormous aircraft is currently non-existent. Hi Fly will replace the A380 with A330 aircraft. The carrier says that these are smaller and more adequate for current market conditions.
.Commenting, the operator said,
“Hi Fly belongs to the very exclusive club of only 15 airlines to ever operate the A380, the largest and most advanced aircraft of all times. This aircraft was a testimony to how far human being can go in developing something so extraordinary.”
9H-MIP was just the sixth Airbus A380 to be built by Airbus. The aircraft took its first flight in November 2006, before Singapore Airlines took delivery of the aircraft in March 2008. As such, the aircraft is now 14 years old.
Hi Fly had shown an interest in the aircraft’s sister, 9V-SKB, but according to Plaenspotters.net, this order was never taken up. The reality now seems that aircraft being retired will not find a second home before being scrapped.
Why don’t airlines want the A380?
Before the current pandemic, the A380 was already somewhat unpopular with airlines due to its gas-guzzling nature. The aircraft is not nearly as efficient as new twinjet widebodies. However, the sizeable cavernous cabin could be hard to suitably fill on all but the highest demand routes at the best of times.
COVID-19 has put pressure on the type in terms of retirements. Air France was the first airline to scrap its entire fleet of A380 aircraft earlier this year. Meanwhile, Lufthansa has scrapped half of its fleet, with the other half potentially not returning.
Are you sad to see Hi Fly give up on the Airbus A380? Let us know what you think and why in the comments.