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Qantas’ First A380 Returns Home, Expands Its Regional Brand
The Airbus A380 — regarded as the long-haul, flagship aircraft in the Qantas fleet — was initially planned to be returned home in Australia by mid-December and prepared for operations in the next year.
As Australia accelerates its reopening, Qantas wants to further cut the superjumbos’ hibernation period and get them back into the skies sooner than initially planned, while expanding its regional operations.
Registered as VH-OQB and nicknamed Hudson Fysh, flight QF6023 was the first A380 flown back to Sydney on Nov. 9. It touched down in Sydney at 15:08 UTC.
The aircraft was previously stored in a purpose-built A380 hangar at Los Angeles International Airport, before it was flown over to Dresden, Germany for maintenance. VH-QOB is currently back home in Sydney where it will undergo routine inspections and possible cabin refurbishments, then it is expected to return to operational services by April 2022 at the earliest.
Given that Qantas is currently observing high demand for its long-haul flights from Sydney to Los Angeles and London’s Heathrow Airport, it is quite likely that VH-QOB would be scheduled to fly on either route. The remaining 10 of Qantas’ A380s continue to soak up the sun rays in California’s notable Mojave Desert. Eventually, the airline plans to return eight back home for scheduled service, whilst sending two to retirement.
Emphasis For Regional Operations
QantasLink — the carrier’s regional brand — is also ramping up operations with the recent announcement for direct flights between Adelaide and Newcastle.
Newcastle is the second-largest city in New South Wales, but QantasLink initially did not operate flight operations, leaving the city out of its route map. As a result, the city was considered one of the largest unserved markets.
However, circumstances might have changed, and Newcastle might have finally appeared on the airline’s radar when the pandemic hit, potentially prompting other airlines like QantasLink to seek new flying opportunities.
The airline scheduled the new flights to begin on March 28 and will operate three times a week. The Embraer E190 — introduced to the regional airline’s fleet earlier in May — will operate the flights on a route that will possibly attract both business and leisure passengers.
Expressing delight for this new route, QantasLink CEO John Gissing said, “We know that many of our customers are flying between Adelaide and Newcastle via Sydney and we’re delighted that we’re able to offer this direct service for the first time.”
More Direct Flights
Additionally, QantasLink will also start operating direct flights between Brisbane, Australia and Wagga Wagga, Australia in Queensland.
For nearly four years, the route has not been flown by any airline, allowing for QantasLink to bring quite the comeback with the three-times-weekly return service. Coincidentally, the new route is set to commence on March 28, using its Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft.
The airline’s strategic decision to give Riverina residents more one-stop connections to other cities across the airline’s extensive Queensland network will play a significant role in making the province a prospective holiday destination.
“As Australia’s largest regional airline, we know we have an important role to play keeping regions connected and driving tourism. This service will make it easier for Queenslanders to catch up with family and friends and explore the beautiful Riverina region,” Gissing added. “As we look forward to our domestic borders reopening, the launch of such services is made even more special, and we have no doubt these services will take off with people looking to reconnect with family and friends and visiting new parts of our beautiful country.”
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