Lufthansa brings the Airbus A380 out of retirement for summer 2023

Jun 28, 2022

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Lufthansa is dusting off its fleet of A380s and launching them back into the skies after two years in “deep storage,” the company announced.

The German flagship carrier said as demand for travel surges, coupled with delays on orders of other aircraft, it’s time for its collection of superjumbos to roar back into action.

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“We decided today to put the A380, which continues to enjoy great popularity, back into service at Lufthansa in summer 2023,” Lufthansa said in the statement.

Lufthansa airplane
(Photo by Ryan Patterson for The Points Guy)

The A380 seemed completely written off by the commercial flight industry by the time COVID-19 brought travel to its knees.

Related: A look inside Boeing’s 737 MAX factory

The past half-decade has seen the gas-guzzling superjumbo trudge grimly toward the scrapyard as younger, more fashionable and fuel-efficient models step into its limelight.

Then the pandemic appeared to accelerate the giant’s fall, as a number of carriers retired the expensive, hulking plane for good, favoring such planes as the Airbus A350 and the Boeing 777 and 787.

However, as more popular models suffer setbacks to their delivery schedules, many airlines — including Qantas and Singapore Airlines — are returning to the “monster of the skies” to meet growing demand.

In fact, by the end of 2022, monthly A380 flights will be at almost 60% of pre-COVID-19 totals, according to Cirium data, which also reveals that 106 are back in service. That’s up from a low of just four when the pandemic hit in April 2020.

Related: Could the beleaguered A380 be the key to unlocking fossil-free flying?

The A380 does, after all, have its perks.

A technological masterpiece and the world’s largest passenger aircraft, it has enough space for onboard showers and marble-topped cocktail bars, conjuring images of the golden age of aviation glamour. Its sheer double-decker vastness — with a wingspan the length of a football pitch — offers a level of style and comfort, from economy to first class, that remains unmatched.

Lufthansa currently owns eight functional A380s, having sold off six others from its previous fleet of 14. At the time, an airline executive said the chance of operating the jet from its main hub of Frankfurt again was “close to zero.”

Lufthansa employees
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr and staff. (Photo by DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/Getty Images)

Related: The Airbus A380 might be back from the dead — but for how long?

That changed when Boeing told Lufthansa that its expected delivery of 777X planes would be delayed after the plane-maker halted production of the new wide-body jet due to certification problems and weak demand.

Lufthansa, therefore, had to seek alternative arrangements. It appears to have found them, for now, in the A380. The company is currently assessing how many A380s it will reactivate and which destinations the Airbus will fly to.

The news comes as Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr apologized to employees and customers for the travel chaos caused by staff shortages in recent months.

“We certainly made mistakes while saving our company and more than 100,000 jobs over the past two years,” Spohr said in a letter to staff and reported by Reuters.

In a refreshing sign of humility, and in stark contrast to the response of many other airlines, especially in Britain, Spohr added: “Did we go too far in cutting costs here and there, under the pressure of the more than 10 billion euros [$10.5 billion] in pandemic-related losses? Certainly, that too,” he added.

Featured photo by Patrick T. Fallon/The Points Guy.

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