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The Hi Fly crew poses after returning to Portugal from the Dominican Republic. (Photo: Hi Fly)

Hi Fly A380 Circumnavigates the World Delivering Medical Supplies

Hi Fly’s Airbus A380 arrived Monday in Beja, Portugal after four days flying around the world. The aircraft made stops in Tianjin, China and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

The 31,047 kilometers (19,292 miles) route took the A380 over Northwest Europe, crossing countries like Spain, France, Germany, Norway and Estonia, before crossing into Russia and Mongolia prior to landing in China. From China, the aircraft flew back over Russia to Alaska, from where the plane moved back south over Canada, the United States, and Central America into the Dominican Republic. From there, the A380 made a transatlantic hop back into Portugal, its home base.

The aircraft was in flight for about 33 hours and 45 minutes, Hi Fly said in a press release.

The aircraft’s main mission was to bring Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from China to the Dominican Republic. But for local aviators, the service stood for much more than fighting the Coronavirus, as it marked the first time an A380 has ever operated in the Dominican Republic.

The route that Hi Fly took in its trip circumnavigating the world. (Photo: Hi Fly)

The aircraft landed in Las Américas International Airport, one of two airports in the Dominican Republic capable of accepting the A380, the other airport being Punta Cana. What is especially remarkable is that Hi Fly chose to operate into Las Américas since Punta Cana is a larger airport that Airbus considers the primary option for A380 operations in the Dominican Republic. The two airports are relatively close together, so it would not have been difficult for Hi Fly to operate into the larger airport.

Hi Fly is one of the very few airlines still operating the A380. In response to the Coronavirus crisis, most airlines have moved their superjumbos into storage in favor of smaller, more efficient planes that are easier to fill during this major travel decline. It is also remarkable that Hi Fly operated the A380 on a cargo flight, as the aircraft was not built as such; no cargo variants of the A380 exist.

It will be interesting to see how Hi Fly continues to use its A380 in the coming months. Airlines have no need for such an aircraft besides potential reparation flights that countries have been sponsoring to bring citizens living abroad home, most, if not all, of which have long been ceased. There is not nearly enough travel demand for airlines to require the use of such a big plane at this time and they are more likely to opt for smaller leased aircraft to aid in operations. It remains to be seen which airlines bring these aircraft out of storage post-coronavirus.

John McDermott
John McDermott
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