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Singapore Airlines was the launch customer of the A380 (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joshua Drabble)

Singapore Airlines, Qantas to Send A380s to Desert for Storage

Singapore Airlines has sent six of its 19 Airbus A380 aircraft to the Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage (ASPA) located at Alice Springs, Australia for long-term storage. The airline aims at preserving its super-jumbos from Singapore’s high humidity environment, which poses corrosion risk for the aircraft. The climate of Alice Springs provides an ideal location for long-term aircraft storage.

The airline’s two-year-old double-deckers registered 9V-SKZ, 9V-SKY and 9V-SKW in addition to eight-year-old 9V-SKT were sent to ASPA on April 26. Two months after sending the first batch of super-jumbos for mothballing, eight-year-old 9V-SKQ and nine-year-old 9V-SKP were sent to Australian aircraft boneyard on June 26 and 27, respectively.

Singapore previously-stored three of its Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, six Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from its subsidiary SilkAir, four Airbus A320s and two Boeing 787 Dreamliners from its subsidiary Scoot in Alice Springs.

The airline is expected to send its remaining surplus super-jumbos to Alice Springs in the coming months.

Qantas Sends A380 Fleet to California Desert

Qantas had grounded all 12 of its A380 aircraft in the wake of the fallout stemming from the novel coronavirus pandemic. Current locations of the airline’s super-jumbos are still widely distributed. Nine of them are currently stored at the airports in and around Melbourne, Sydney and Los Angeles. One is in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, while two A380s are at Dresden Airport in Germany.

The airline is looking to transfer all of its A380 fleet to the Mojave Desert in California, where they will be mothballed until at least 2023. During a press teleconference, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce stated that the airline would park the A380s for at least three years.

“The A380s have to remain on the ground for at least three years until we see those international volumes brought back,” Joyce said. “The aircraft are being put into the Mojave Desert, where the environment protects the aircraft because we have the intention at the right time to restart them, but that is a considerable amount of time away.”

Qantas operates its super-jumbos mostly on its flights to the U.S. and the U.K. The airline will decide on the fate of its A380 fleet depending on the recovery in air travel demand.

“There is a potential to bring all 12 A380s back, but there is a potential to bring less than 12 back,” Joyce told Executive Traveller.

Qantas is cutting 6,000 jobs as a result of the coronavirus crisis, a figure which corresponds to approximately 20% of all its employees. As the company announced, more than half of the remaining 23,000 employees will also be on leave for months. One hundred of 126 aircraft — including a large part of the international fleet — are said to remain grounded for up to a year.

With the cost management measures, the airline plans to save approximately 15 billion Australian dollars ($10.5 billion) over the next three years. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the airline canceled its international flights until at least end of 2020. The company also had to reduce the number of flights within Australia. The carrier expects international flights to meaningfully resume by July 2021.

“The domestic flight market will get back to maybe 70% of pre-COVID[-19] levels in the next year and the following year to 100%,” Joyce said at a briefing. “We think international will take a long time – nothing this next financial year— and next July we may start to see some international services and that will only get us to 50% the following year.”

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