Qantas is Facing an Overflow of Airbus A380s Returning from Storage

Feb 28, 2023 | kstrickland

Reposted from Simpleflying. Read the original article here:

Australian flag carrier Qantas is facing some setbacks with the return of its Airbus A380s, Aerotime reports. In a statement, the airline confirmed that slot constraints with its Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) services are slowing the reactivation of the super jumbo jets, and a complete return of its entire A380 fleet may not happen until "early 2025."

Slow return to service

With Australia's aviation recovery in full swing, Qantas is already scrambling to expand its fleet to meet capacity demands. As of February 2023, Qantas has moved nine A380s from storage, though only six are currently in active service – a number that may remain fixed for a while.

The giant quad jets come with equally giant maintenance requirements. Although A380 MRO facilities were already running slim before the pandemic, the sudden swarm of airlines reactivating the superjumbos has limited the carrier's maintenance plans.

Qantas focuses its A380 MRO out of two facilities; its personal $30 million maintenance space at Los Angeles (LAX), which doubles as a center for its Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet, and at the Emirati state-owned Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies for heavier repairs and overhauls. Abu Dhabi's MRO facility similarly serves flag carrier Etihadwhich recently unveiled plans to reactivate its 10-strong A380 fleet through 2023, putting strain on Qantas' efforts.

While the carrier initially projected a full return of its A380 fleet by the end of the year, the limited MRO slots have led Qantas to reevaluate the timeline by two years.

"Every maintenance facility around the world is very full because every airline is trying to get their aircraft back up and running," Chief Executive Alan Joyce told Aviation International News.

Supply chain woes

Along with its new A380 setbacks, Qantas is facing some fleet delays due to supply chain issues with Airbus and Boeing pushing back delivery dates.

Earlier this month, the airline announced it would move to alleviate potential capacity problems through the acquisition of five "mid-life" Airbus A319 and A320s to serve its Western Australian routes. Qantas also confirmed it would exercise options for nine new Airbus A220-300 jets for its domestic network, expanding its order to 29 of the ultra-efficient narrowbody aircraft.

Joyce added,

“Aircraft manufacturers are seeing the same supply chain delays as a lot of other industries and we’ve been told that some of our deliveries will be pushed back by up to six months. When you combine the delays with the sustained growth in travel demand that we’re seeing, we need to find other ways to lift capacity in the short and medium term.”

Current A380 fleet

In January 2022, Qantas brought VH-OQB back into passenger service, closely followed by five more A380s through the year. The quad jets primarily serve Qantas' high-demand routes, such as Sydney (SYD) to London Heathrow (LHR) via Singapore (SIN) and Sydney to Hong Kong (HKG), set to begin in March.

The most recently reactivated A380, VH-OQI, left Victorville (VCV) in January before dotting between Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi (AUH) with a brief stopover at London Heathrow to undergo final maintenance checks. VH-OQA has sat in Abu Dhabi since November despite initial plans to return the jet to the fleet in mid-December 2022. VH-OQC is also still in storage in Abu Dhabi.

VH-OQL returned to Sydney earlier this month after spending two months at the Emirati airport for cabin refresh. While the aircraft has operated several test flights out of Sydney, it has yet to resume customer operations.

Two jets have since been withdrawn, cutting Qantas' A380 fleet to 10. The 12-year-old VH-OQF was scrapped in Victorville back in July 2022. VH-OQE, which has also been permanently stored in California since 2020, is likely next on the chopping board, though it remains listed as a "stored" member of Qantas' fleet by ch-aviation.