The post-pandemic rebound in demand for air travel is so strong, some retired airplanes are making a comeback.
That includes the world’s largest passenger plane: the Airbus A380 jumbo jet, nicknamed “The Whale,” a fan favorite among passengers and aviation enthusiasts.
A steep drop in travel during the pandemic forced airlines such as Air France and Asiana Airlines to park most of the worldwide A380 fleet, leaving the double-decker planes with an uncertain future.
But now some airlines are rushing to bring their A380s back into service. Their high seat counts are proving to be invaluable at a time when airlines are looking to add capacity and keep pace with travel demand.
One such airline is British Airways, which operates 12 A380s. After abruptly phasing out its A380s and Boeing 747-400s in July 2020, the airline announced it would return all its A380s to service in October 2021 following the U.S.’ announcement that it would re-open its borders to international travelers, including the U.K.
As of January 2023, British Airways’ entire A380 fleet is back flying to destinations around the world from the airline’s London Heathrow hub. This summer, the airline’s A380 fleet will serve nine destinations from London, mostly to cities in the U.S.
Lufthansa also plans to bring some of its A380s out of storage, while Etihad Airways plans to return four of its superjumbos to service to operate between Abu Dhabi and London. Other carriers that plan to reinstate A380s include Qantas and the world’s largest operator of the type, Emirates.
Casper Wood caught this photo of a British Airways A380 landing at Miami International Airport; one of its two daily flights from London on British Airways is operated by the superjumbo.
Another destination that sees A380s is Chicago. David Cannone shared a wonderful photo of the sun high above the Windy City reflecting off Lake Michigan.
Thanks, Casper and David!
Our readers continue to pass along shots of unique aircraft, international airports, historical events, gorgeous views and even family vacation photos for this feature. We love them! Keep them coming—you can click here for submission guidelines.
An American Airlines flight passes by Chicago while in route to Pittsburgh. (Photo submitted by David Cannone)