Etihad Airways entire fleet of the Airbus A380 fleet that was grounded in March was taken up to the skies recently. The airline has a total of 10 Airbus A380 aircraft in its fleet which had not flown since 24th March. This was due to the travel ban imposed by the Government in response to the virus. Due to which, the airline had to halt its operations.
Airbus A380 is not flying anywhere and has also become a rare sight as filling up such a big aircraft is difficult.
A380 a rare sight:
No airline around the globe is operating the type for over 3 months now. Many airlines are planning to completely phase out the aircraft due to less air travel demand and heavy maintenance costs associated with it.
Lufthansa also announced that it will be phasing out its 6 Airbus A380’s along with other types. Many airlines also stored their fleet of Airbus A380’s as they are not seeing any future demand anytime soon.
Air France also bids farewell to the Giant Airbus A380 recently as it did the last flight over France on 26th June. This was a special 2-hour flight to bid the farewell to the big bird.
Emirates recently announced that they will bring some of the Airbus A380 fleets and start flights to some destinations. However, the complete fleet won’t be up before 2022.
Etihad Airbus A380’s ghost flights:
Etihad airways consist of 10 Airbus A380’s in its fleet which made its first flight after 3 months of no flying.
The airline is busy doing maintenance checks on all the types of aircraft including the Super Jumbo. In fact, the aircraft on the ground costs even more as it needs more care throughout its downtime. Imagine a vehicle sitting in a garage for an excessive period of time? The case for flying jets is even more troublesome if they don’t operate a flight.
According to the data from Flightradar24, The entire fleet did an average of 15-20 minutes flight over Abu Dhabi recently. The latest A380 flight was performed on 6th July over Abu Dhabi. The registration of the aircraft is A6-APH the most love as it did 2 ghost flights, one on 6th April, and another one on 6th July.
The fleet of the Etihad’s Airbus A380 and their last flight:
- A6-APA (15th June)
- A6-APB (16th June)
- A6-APC (17th June)
- A6-APD (18th June)
- A6-APE (12th June)
- A6-APF (13th June)
- A6-APG (12th June)
- A6-APH (6th April & 6th July)
- A6-API (19th June)
- A6-APJ (14th June)
Reason for doing A380 ghost flights
Airlines around the world have just two options. Either put the aircraft in long term storage, or secondly, keep them fit and do regular ghost flights every month until the whole fleet is back into service.
That is the only reason Etihad took the whole fleet up in the skies and performed ghost flights. The airline is not planning to put its entire fleet into storage like other airlines such as Qantas Airways is doing. According to Etihad Airways, keeping the aircraft in short term storage and bringing them back into service is comparatively easier than long term storage.
Challenges faced by the Airline to keep its fleet properly maintained
Keeping the entire fleet on the ground for a longer period of time requires a dedicated team and much more expertise to keep it fit and ready for flying. Etihad has been doing regular maintenance checks on its entire fleet including the A380’s. It was just a few weeks ago when the airline sent the fleet up in the skies. These flights were just test flights and they did not carry any passengers.
Gary Byrne who is the technical operations head said: “He has not seen anything like this before in his entire aviation career”.
In April, 80% of the Airline’s fleet was on the ground. But it’s not just that, an airline needs to keep the engines covered along with its exhaust to keep it safe from sand and dust. Especially in a country like the UAE. Also disconnecting the batteries to preserve the aircraft and regularly checking them to keep it in running condition.
Read More: Parked aircraft cost more than flying ones
Complex piece of Machinery
Aircraft is a complex piece of machinery unlike any other machine like parking a car. So regular maintenance is utmost important, along with running the engines, checking batteries, checking flight controls when the fleet is in a parking mode.
Some fleet of the aircraft at Etihad Airways was undergoing heavy maintenance checks in the hangars. The airline also doubled down on the cabin and aircraft maintenance during the downtime. It was just to make the fleet ready once the flight resumes in August as announced by the Airline.
The airline announced just this week that it will be resuming flight operations to 58 destinations.
Featured Image Credits: Etihad Airways