The British Airways Airbus A380 fleet is currently stored across three locations. The half of the fleet resting its wings in Madrid has been flying one by one to London Heathrow to undergo regularly scheduled maintenance. Today, the last of the six, G-XLEH, made the journey north to its London home.
Many aircraft have remained grounded over the past year due to the industry’s current situation. However, aircraft can’t just be left at the side of the airfield and ignored until needed again. They must either have their maintenance kept up to date or be placed into a state of long-term storage.
G-XLEH returns home
This afternoon, G-XLEH departed Madrid’s Barajas Airport. The six-year-old Airbus A380 has called this airport home for the past four months, arriving in late December. According to data from RadarBox.com, the plane left Madrid at 16:46 this afternoon.
The plane flew north for one hour and 40 minutes before landing in Heathrow at 17:26. The flight’s cruise altitude was 43,000 feet. Having left Spain, most of the flight took place over water with a short hop over northwest France before starting its long descent before arriving at Terminal 5.
Why undergo maintenance in London?
As mentioned above, aircraft can’t just be placed at the side of the field and left for months on end. While on the ground in Madrid, small maintenance inspections will be made regularly, including walking around aircraft looking for visible damage. However, aircraft have several more extensive checks that are required on a calendar basis.
In this case, British Airways has the staff and equipment that it needs in London. The fact that British Airways continues to maintain its Airbus A380s is a good sign for the giant of the skies. Of course, it costs the airline money to fly its A380s back to London and maintain them.
You can read about what goes into maintaining an Airbus A380 in our long read here.
By paying for the maintenance, it suggests that the airline is looking to fly the aircraft again. Otherwise, it would be more cost-effective to send its entire fleet to long-term storage, as has been the case with Lufthansa and its A380s. British Airways has already sent three A380s to the same facility.
A further three aircraft are being stored in Doha. As Qatar Airways has its own A380 fleet, the part-owner of British Airways’ parent company would likely be able to complete maintenance on these three aircraft.
Will the British Airways Airbus A380 return?
As we mentioned earlier, the fact that British Airways continues to spend on maintaining these giants bodes well. Of course, bar the aircraft actually returning to the skies, it will be impossible to say for sure they will return. However, British Airways has given other indicators that the type will remain. Last month British Airways CEO Sean Doyle hinted that the A380 would return.
However, every possibility remains on the cards at the moment. When the first British Airways Boeing 747s went to storage, the airline told us that this would be temporary. This turned out not to be the case. One airline committed to the Airbus A380 is Emirates, which has said it will fly the giant for 15 more years.
Are you excited to see another Airbus A380 returning to London? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!