Qantas is bringing its Airbus A380s back into service in January

Dec 29, 2021

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.


Qantas is bringing back the Airbus A380 — and soon.

After being parked for nearly two years, the Australian carrier will once again be flying the popular superjumbo on its flight between Sydney (SYD) and Los Angeles (LAX) starting on Jan. 11.

The thrice-weekly service departs Sydney as flight QF11 at 9:40 p.m. and arrives at LAX at 4:30 p.m. the same day, all times local. The return flight, QF12, departs Los Angeles at 8:15 p.m. and arrives in Sydney two days later, at 6:20 a.m.

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The early return of the A380 is due to staffing pressures among its Boeing 787 pilots — the fleet that the A380 replaces on this route, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Qantas has about 70 787 pilots based in Australia’s Queensland state, and local regulations mandate a 14-day quarantine after international operations for those pilots.

Qantas’ A380 was originally supposed to return to service this March on SYD-LAX. By the end of 2022, it’s also scheduled on SYD-Singapore (SIN), according to Cirium schedule data.

Earlier this year, Qantas’s CEO committed to returning all 12 of its A380s to service, but not before 2024.

“We think we will reactivate all of the A380s,” Alan Joyce said in April.

The airline had already refurbished some of the wide-body jets in its fleet and modernized the interior cabins with a 1-2-1 layout in business class that offers aisle access for each seat. So, it was expected that as many as six A380s would resume service — those that had been updated.

Joyce said at the time that its A380s could be reactivated within three to six months if demand returned earlier, which appears to have happened.

Qantas has been storing the wide-bodies inside a huge hangar in California’s Mojave Desert, where they are being carefully maintained so they are ready when they are called back into duty.

Related: Flying Qantas first class on the A380 from Melbourne to LA

While the A380 was grounded, the Boeing 787 has served as Qantas’ flagship plane. The large number of premium seats – 42 seats in business class and 28 in premium economy — provide a substantial boost to the airline’s financial bottom line.

Qantas began to restart its international network earlier this quarter, with highlights including the resumption of flights between SYD and LAX as well as its nonstop 787 flight to London, which now operates from Darwin (DRW) instead of Perth (PER). Earlier this month, the carrier inaugurated service between Sydney and Delhi (DEL).

Additional reporting by Mike Avila.

Featured photo courtesy of Qantas.

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