Singapore Airlines is the latest carrier to bring back the A380 super jumbo. Citing strong demand – and customer preference for the type – as the country expands its vaccinated traveler lane (VTL) program, London will be the first market to see regular A380 flights resume.
The VTL scheme allows vaccinated travelers to skip quarantine on arrival in Singapore and is opening to several additional countries in the coming month.
The carrier will operate the plane on shorter crew familiarization flights in the days leading up to the return of long-haul flying. Given the 18 month grounding, this is necessary to ensure proper training and certification for pilots and cabin crew.
And while the return to commercial service is good news for the airline and passengers, it is not enough to halt the carrier’s overall plans to retire the A380 fleet longer term.
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The 19-strong fleet pre-pandemic expected a drop to 12 frames under a rationalization plan. Just last week two of the planes were moved to be scrapped locally in Singapore, an effort that included towing them on public roads.
Generally a passenger favorite, the economics of the quad-engine, super jumbo never quite panned out for most airlines. And while this bit of a revival helps keep the type running, it does not appear to represent a reversal of the longer term plan to retire the planes in the years ahead.
Then again, if the 777X takes any further delays on certification or comes up short on meeting promised performance specifications, airlines might need to keep a few more A380s in service to bridge the gap.
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