Lufthansa is bringing back its beloved A380 jet next year, reversing a pandemic-era decision. Here are the airlines that have resumed flying the plane since 2020.

·9 min read
Lufthansa Airbus A380
A Lufthansa Airbus A380.Chittapon Kaewkiriya /
  • The Airbus A380 is continuing to make a comeback as travel demand booms post-pandemic.

  • Several carriers restored the double-decker to service in 2020 and 2021, with Lufthansa announcing a 2023 return.

  • Other airlines have permanently said goodbye to their A380s in favor of more economical planes.

The world's largest passenger plane is continuing to make its comeback as pandemic-era travel restrictions fade away.

Airbus A380
Airbus A380Airbus

Airbus' behemoth A380 stood out in a world deprived of air travelers early on in the pandemic. The ability to fly a huge number of passengers — over 600 people — in a single plane, which the A380 once represented, made it temporarily obsolete.

Airbus A380.

But, as pent-up demand for international travel rages this summer, airlines that sent their A380s to storage are now dusting off the cobwebs and getting ready to connect people again.

An Emirates Airbus A380.
An Emirates Airbus A380.Arnold Aaron/

Here's how the A380 is making a comeback after being mostly forgotten and abandoned during the pandemic.

Airbus A380 MSN1.
Airbus A380 MSN1.Ben Birchall/PA Images/Contributor via Getty Images

Four-engine aircraft, including the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747, were among the most impacted during COVID-19. Airlines no longer needed the amount of space that the aircraft offered — combined with the excessive cost of two additional engines when only two were needed.

Emirates Airbus A380
Emirates Airbus A380Sundry Photography/Shutterstock

Here's how the pandemic accelerated the demise of four-engine aircraft like the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747.

The A380 also didn't have the benefit of having a second life in the air-cargo realm, as other airliners did, despite its size. Though, that didn't stop some carriers from using the A380 as a makeshift freighter.

Hi Fly A380
A Hi Fly Airbus A380 cargo conversion.Hi Fly

Here's how one charter airline hollowed out an Airbus A380 for use as a cargo freighter.

Destined to fly passengers, some airlines started bringing back the A380 shortly after the onset of COVID-19, with others adding it back into their networks for the first time this year as demand continues to skyrocket.

An Airbus A380 operated by Lufthansa.
An Airbus A380 operated by Lufthansa.Silas Stein/picture alliance via Getty Images.

Emirates, in its role as the world's largest Airbus A380 operator, was unsurprisingly one of the first airlines to restore the mammoth plane.

Emirates and American Airlines planes
An Emirates Airbus A380 and an American Airlines A321.Philip Pilosian /

Dubai opened to international travelers in July 2020, ahead of most global tourist destinations, and Emirates responded by adding A380 flights to London and Paris the same month.

Emirates Airbus A380
Emirates Airbus A380kamilpetran/Shutterstock

Source: Cirium Diio Mi

Since then, the A380 has returned to many of the Emirates destinations it once served, including the US. The carrier also took delivery of its last-ever A380 during the pandemic, marking a huge milestone for the operator.

Final Airbus A380 to Emirates
The final Airbus A380 bound for Emirates.Airbus-Lutz Borck

Emirates will receive the last Airbus A380 ever in November. Here's how the world's largest passenger plane went from revolutionary to reject in just a decade.

According to aviation-data provider Cirium, the carrier resumed flights between Dubai and New York-JFK on June 21, 2021, followed by flights to Los Angeles, Washington DC, and San Francisco. Emirates' "fifth-freedom" flight between Milan and JFK started in December 2021.

Emirates' first-ever Airbus A380, registered A6-EDA
Emirates' first-ever Airbus A380, registered A6-EDANYC Russ

Source: Cirium Diio Mi

All of Emirates' A380 luxuries have also been restored, including caviar in first class and in-flight showers.

The bathroom of a first class cabin inside an Emirates Airbus A380.
The bathroom of a first class cabin inside an Emirates Airbus A380.Christian Charisius/picture alliance via Getty Images.

Meanwhile, Emirates' existing A380 fleet is being retrofitted with a new interior that includes enhancements to each cabin and the addition of a premium economy class.

Emirates A380 Premium Economy
Emirates A380 Premium EconomyEmirates

In October 2021, All Nippon Airways (ANA) took delivery of its third and final A380 from Airbus's production line in Toulouse, France. The Japanese carrier initially planned to use the aircraft to fly solely between Tokyo and Honolulu, Hawaii, before the pandemic hit.

Third and final ANA A380.
Third and final ANA A380.Airbus

Source: Airbus

Those flights were rescheduled to start in January 2022, but the carrier has postponed the service until at least July 1, according to Cirium data. That could be further pushed back depending on the border-reopening status in Japan.

Third and final ANA A380.

Source: Cirium Diio Mi

While ANA has not flown its giant A380 since the pandemic on regularly scheduled flights, it has operated "flights to nowhere" around Japan.

ANA A380.

Source: Simple Flying

Competing Asian carrier Singapore Airlines resumed A380 flights on November 4, 2021, after the launch of the "vaccinated travel lane" program that allowed inoculated visitors to skip quarantine upon arrival in Singapore.

Singapore Airlines A380.
Mike Fuchslocher/Shutterstock

The first flight flew from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The 160-nautical-mile journey was among the shortest to ever be flown by the A380 in a scheduled capacity.

Singapore Airlines Airbus A380
Singapore Airlines Airbus A380Vytautas Kielaitis/Shutterstock

Source: Cirium Diio Mi

Since then, Singapore has relaunched its A380 on several other routes, including two of the world's longest passenger flights from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport.

Singapore Airlines A380 first class suite.
Taylor Rains/Insider

See inside Singapore's A380 first class suite that features a full bed, private bathroom, and large leather armchair

The ultra-long-haul flights to Singapore push 19 hours. Because of the incredibly long journey, the carrier has created "wellness meals" that help passengers feel fuller, fresher, and more comfortable during the flight.

Singapore Airlines "wellness meals."
Taylor Rains/Insider

Singapore Airlines just relaunched the world's second-longest flight which connects the country to NYC — see the 'wellness meals' the carrier serves onboard the 19-hour flight

In Europe, British Airways resumed flying the A380 on November 8, 2021, to Frankfurt, Germany, and Madrid from London as a means of getting flight crews reacclimated to the plane.

British Airways Airbus A380
A British Airways Airbus A380.Philip Pilosian /

Source: Cirium Diio Mi, Simple Flying

After its initial European runs, British Airways expanded the A380 to overseas destinations, like Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, Dubai, and Johannesburg, South Africa.

British Airways Airbus A380
A British Airways Airbus A380.Thiago B Trevisan /

Source: Cirium Diio Mi

According to data from Cirium, the airline will resume A380 flights to Dallas/Fort Worth on July 1, 2022, and up its seasonal service between London and Johannesburg to twice a day in October.

British Airways a380.

Source: Cirium Diio Mi

Before resuming service, the iconic red, white, and blue A380s sat in storage around Europe and as far as the Middle East. In Doha, Qatar, for example, three British A380s sat idle on a taxiway at Hamad International Airport.

British Airways Airbus A380
A British Airways Airbus A380.Thomas Pallini/Insider

Here's what living in the passenger terminal for 48 hours was like.

Doha-based Qatar Airways was the second Middle Eastern carrier after Emirates to resume A380 operations after grounding the jets for over a year, flying the plane to Paris and London in December 2021.

Qatar A380.

Source: Cirium Diio Mi

The largest aircraft in Qatar's fleet is the only one to feature a true first-class cabin. Smaller aircraft only feature business-class seats.

Qatar A380 first class.

Shortly after Qatar relaunched its A380, Australian airline Qantas announced the return of the double-decker in January 2022.

Qantas Airbus A380
A Qantas Airbus A380.Ryan Fletcher /

Source: Cirium Diio Mi

According to Cirium, the plane flew between Sydney and Los Angles on January 11, followed by flights between Melbourne and Los Angeles on June 6 and Sydney and Singapore on June 21, though Cirium does not show any flights between Australia and London resuming this year.

Qantas Airbus A380
A Qantas Airbus A380.Felipe Sanchez /

Source: Cirium Diio Mi

Korean Air was another carrier to quickly return the A380, resuming limited flights of the jet in September 2020 to destinations in Japan and China. Nearly two years later, service to the US finally restarted on Monday with a flight from Seoul to New York JFK.

Korean Air Airbus A380
A Korean Air Airbus A380.Thiago B Trevisan /

Source: Cirium Diio Mi

But even as the carrier slowly returns the jet to its standard flying schedule, the A380's tenure in Korea is still set to expire in the next five years.

Korean Air A380.
Philip Pilosian/

"The A380s will be leaving Korean Air's fleet within five years, and the Boeing 747-8i fleet will also follow suit within ten years," Walter Cho, Korean Air's chief executive officer, told FlightGlobal in August.

Korean Air Airbus A380
A Korean Air Airbus A380.Thiago B Trevisan /

Source: FlightGlobal

In 2021, German flag carrier Lufthansa shared Korean’s feelings towards the A380, and it was doubtful whether the airline would ever bring back the jet.

Lufthansa Airbus A380
A Lufthansa Airbus A380.Chittapon Kaewkiriya /

Source: Lufthansa

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said in a second-quarter 2021 earnings call that the "A380 obviously will not come back." However, the carrier reversed its pandemic-era decision on Monday, saying the beloved jet would return in summer 2023.

Lufthansa's Airbus A380.
Lufthansa's Airbus A380.Lufthansa.

Source: Lufthansa, Seeking Alpha

In a press release, the carrier revealed that booming demand and delayed deliveries of other jets prompted the decision.

Lufthansa Airbus A380
A Lufthansa Airbus A380.Sundry Photography /

Source: Lufthansa

It is unknown how, when, or how many A380s will be reactivated, or which routes they will fly. However, Lufthansa did reveal it has 14 planes in "deep storage" in Spain in France, six of which have been sold and eight that remain available to the carrier.

Lufthansa Airbus A380
A Lufthansa Airbus A380 in storage.Santi Rodriguez /

Source: Lufthansa

There is one airline that never gave up on the A380, even during the worst of the pandemic — China Southern Airlines. The carrier only briefly grounded the jet from February 10 to March 24, 2020, per Cirium.

China Southern Airlines Airbus A380
A China Southern Airlines Airbus A380.StudioPortoSabbia /

Source: Cirium Diio Mi

From Guangzhou, China, China Southern's A380 flew to global destinations such as Los Angeles, Sydney, Tokyo, Paris, London, and Amsterdam, Netherlands.

China Southern Airways A380.
Angel DiBilio/

Source: Cirium Diio Mi

Unlike China Southern and Lufthansa, some carriers, including Air France, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways, and Etihad Airways, decided to stop flying the A380.

Etihad Airways Airbus A380
An Etihad Airways Airbus A380.Fasttailwind/

Etihad is ditching its largest and swankiest jets including the popular Airbus A380 and Boeing 777

Air France quickly retired its A380 fleet in May 2020, early on in the pandemic, and now relies on more-efficient twin-engine aircraft, like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Boeing 777, and Airbus A350-900 XWB.

Air France Airbus A380
Air France Airbus A380roibu/Shutterstock

Source: Forbes

Despite some retirements, the pandemic hasn't yet killed the beloved A380 jet, even if it has sped up the aircraft's decline in popularity. Some airlines, like their passengers, still do have affection for the iconic plane and aren't ready to part with it just yet.

Lufthansa's Airbus A380.
Lufthansa's Airbus A380.Lufthansa.

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