Airlines around the world are resuming flights with the world’s largest passenger jet after dumping it during the pandemic

Emirates Airbus A380
An Emirates Airbus A380. Arnold Aaron/
  • The Airbus A380 is making a comeback as more pandemic-era travel restrictions are lifted.
  • British Airways, Singapore Airlines, and Qatar Airways say they will fly their A380s before the end of the year.
  • Other airlines have permanently said goodbye to their A380s in favor of more economical planes.

The world’s largest passenger plane is making its comeback as airlines around the world are moving quickly to once again shuttle travelers around the world as pandemic-era travel restrictions continue to fall.
Airbus A380
An Airbus A380. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
Airbus’ behemoth A380 stood out like a sore thumb in a world deprived of air travelers early on in the pandemic. The indulgences in air travel and the ability to fly as many passengers in a single plane that the A380 once represented made it temporarily obsolete.
Airbus A380
An Airbus A380. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
But long-haul flying is returning as countries open their borders. The A380 is once more facilitating vacations, long-distance reunions, business travel, and the countless other reasons travelers have for flying around the world.
Airbus a380
An Airbus A380. AP
Airlines that sent their Airbus A380s to storage are now dusting off the cobwebs and getting flight crews reacquainted with the aircraft. They’ll soon fly hundreds of passengers across two full levels of seats.
British Airways Airbus A380
A British Airways Airbus A380. Thomas Pallini/Insider
Here’s how the A380 is making a comeback after being mostly forgotten and abandoned during the pandemic.
Emirates Airbus A380
An Emirates Airbus A380. Arnold Aaron/
Four-engine aircraft including the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747 were among the most impacted during the pandemic. Airlines no longer needed the amount of space that the aircraft offered combined with the excessive cost of two additional engines when only two were needed.
Emirates Airbus A380
An Emirates Airbus A380. Sundry Photography/
The A380 also didn’t have the benefit of having a second life in the air cargo realm, as other airliners did, despite its size. Though, that didn’t stop some airlines from using the A380 as a makeshift freighter.
HiFly A380
A Airbus A380 cargo conversion. HiFly
Destined to fly passengers, the A380 is now getting the chance to do it once more as three airlines have plans to resume scheduled flights with the aircraft before the end of 2021.
Airbus A380
An Airbus A380. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
Singapore Airlines is the latest airline to announce plans that bring back the A380 thanks to the new “vaccinated travel lane” program that allows vaccinated visitors to skip quarantine upon arrival in Singapore.
Singapore airlines plane
A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380. photosounds/Shutterstock
The first Singapore Airlines A380 flight since April 2020 will operate on November 4 to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The 160-nautical-mile flight is among the shortest to ever be flown by the A380 in a scheduled capacity.
Airbus A380 Singapore Airlines
A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380. REUTERS/Jean Philippe Aries
Source: Cirium Diio Mi
Other Singapore Airlines destinations slated to receive the aircraft after Kuala Lumpur include London; Sydney, Australia; Shanghai, China; Beijing, China; Hong Kong; Dehli, India; Mumbai, India; and Osaka, Japan.
Singapore airline
Singapore Airlines flight attendants and a rendering of the airline’s Airbus A380. Edgar Su/Reuters
Source: Cirium Diio Mi
Singapore Airlines uses its A380s to offer a premium experience in the sky, unlike anything its smaller planes could offer. Suites are offered in first class, for example, and two can be combined to form a “double suite” with a bed for two.
Singapore Airlines A380 suites
A first class suite onboard a Airbus A380. Singapore Airlines
In Europe, British Airways will resume flying the A380 on November 8. Frankfurt, Germany and Madrid, Spain will be the first destinations from London as a means of getting flight crews reacclimated with the plane.
British airways plane
A British Airways Airbus A380-800 descends for a landing at Washington Dulles International Airport as seen, Wednesday, June 1, 2016 in Ashburn, Va. AP Photo/Alex Brandon
Source: Cirium Diio Mi
After its initial European runs, British Airways’ overseas destinations including Los Angeles and Dubai will be the first to receive the aircraft followed by San Francisco, Singapore, Miami, and Johannesburg, South Africa in 2022.
British Airways Airbus A380
A British Airways Airbus A380. Thiago B Trevisan /
Source: Cirium Diio Mi
The iconic red, white, and blue A380s sat in storage around Europe and as far as the Middle East. In Doha, Qatar, for example, three British Airways A380s sat idle on a taxiway at Hamad International Airport.
British Airways Airbus A380
A British Airways Airbus A380. Thomas Pallini/Insider
Hamad International Airport was just voted “best airport in the world” by Skytrax. Here’s what living in the passenger terminal for 48 hours was like.
A total of 469 passengers can be seated in British Airways’ A380 configuration, which includes 97 business class seats and 14 first class suites.
British Airways Airbus A380 cabin
Inside a Airbus A380 cabin. British Airways
Source: SeatGuru
On October 15, All Nippon Airways took delivery of its third and final A380 from Airbus’s production line in Toulouse, France. The Japanese carrier had planned to use the aircraft to fly solely between Tokyo and Honolulu, Hawaii before the pandemic hit.
All Nippon Airways Airbus A380
An All Nippon Airways A380. Airbus
Source: Airbus
Those flights are scheduled to resume in January, according to the airline’s most recent schedule. Though, that may change depending on the travel landscape in Japan.
ANA Airbus A380 Flying Honu
An All Nippon Airways Airbus A380. viper-zero /
Source: Cirium Diio Mi
Emirates, in its role as the world’s largest Airbus A380 operator, is unsurprisingly flying the most A380 flights of any airline.
An Emirates Airbus A380. ZGPhotography/shutterstock
Dubai opened to international travelers in July 2020, ahead of most global tourist destinations, and Emirates responded by adding A380 flights to London and Paris.
Emirates Airbus A380
An Emirates Airbus A380. kamilpetran/
Source: Cirium Diio Mi
Since then, the A380 has returned to many of the Emirates destinations it has served including the US. American A380 destinations include Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC with as many as six daily A380 flights to the US planned for December.
Emirates a380
An Emirates Airbus A380. Nitis Petcharat / Shutterstock
“Slowly but surely, the A380s are going to fly and they’re going to fly to all of those [pre-COVID] destinations,” Essa Sulaiman Ahmad, Emirates’ division vice president for the US and Canada, told Insider. “The United States is ready for it.”
Emirates Airbus A380
An Emirates Airbus A380. AP
All of Emirates’ A380 luxuries have also been restored including caviar in first class and in-flight showers.
Emirates Airbus A380
An Emirates Airbus A380. Agent Wolf/
And Emirates’ existing A380 fleet is also in the process of being retrofitted with a new interior that includes enhancements to each cabin and the addition of a premium economy class.
Emirates A380 Premium Economy
Premium economy onboard an Airbus A380. Emirates
Qatar Airways plans to resume flights on the Airbus A380 on December 15, serving Paris and London.
Qatar Airways Airbus A380
A Qatar Airways Airbus A380. Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto/Getty
Source: Cirium Diio Mi
The largest aircraft in Qatar Airways fleet is the only to feature a true first class cabin. Smaller Qatar Airways aircraft only feature business class seats.
Qatar Airways Airbus A380 first class
A Qatar Airways Airbus A380. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
Korean Air also resumed limited flying with the A380 in September 2020 to destinations in Japan and China. Starting December 1, the aircraft is scheduled to fly to more destinations including Bangkok, Thailand, and Paris.
Korean Air Airbus A380
A Korean Air Airbus A380. AP/Airbus, C. Brinkmann
But even as Korean Air slowly returns the jet to its standard flying schedule, the A380’s tenure in Korea is still set to expire in the next five years.
Airbus A380 Korean Air
A Korean Air Airbus A380. Kate Taylor/Business Insider
“The A380s will be leaving Korean Air’s fleet within five years, and the Boeing 747-8i fleet will also follow suit within ten years,” Walter Cho, Korean Air’s chief executive officer, told FlightGlobal in August.
Korean Air Airbus A380
A Korean Air Airbus A380. Lukas Wunderlich /
Source: FlightGlobal
Lufthansa shares Korean Air’s feelings towards the A380 and it’s doubtful whether the German carrier will restore the aircraft to flying service at any time in the future.
Lufthansa Airbus A380
A Lufthansa Airbus A380. Chittapon Kaewkiriya /
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said that the “A380 obviously will not come back” in a second-quarter 2021 earnings call.
Lufthansa Airbus A380
A Lufthansa Airbus A380. Santi Rodriguez /
Source: Seeking Alpha
If Lufthansa does commit to retiring the planes, it will join Air France, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways, and Etihad Airways in the club of former A380 operators.
Etihad Airways Airbus A380 and Boeing 777
An Etihad Airways Airbus A380. Markus Mainka/
Air France quickly retired its A380 fleet in May 2020, early on in the pandemic, and now relies on more efficient twin-engine aircraft like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Boeing 777, and Airbus A350-900 XWB.
Air France Airbus A380
An Air France Airbus A380. Thomas Pallini/Business Insider
Australian flag carrier Qantas does not currently have A380 flights scheduled for the remainder of 2021. The first scheduled flight is for July 1, 2022, between Sydney and Los Angeles, a staple route for the aircraft.
Qantas Airbus A380
A Qantas Airbus A380. Ryan Fletcher/
Qantas just announced the resumption of US and London flights from Sydney following the reopening of New South Wales to vaccinated tourists but has tapped the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to perform the first flights.
Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner
A Qantas Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider
One airline that never gave up on the A380, even during the worst of the pandemic, is China Southern Airlines. From Guangzhou, China, the A380 flew to global destinations such as Los Angeles, Sydney, Tokyo, Paris, London, and Amsterdam, Netherlands.
China Southern Airlines Airbus A380
A China Southern Airlines Airbus A380. StudioPortoSabbia /
Source: Cirium Diio Mi
The pandemic hasn’t yet killed the Airbus A380, even if it has sped up the aircraft’s demise. Airlines, like their passengers, still do have affection for the aircraft and aren’t ready to part with them just yet.
Emirates Airbus A380
The sun isn’t setting on the Airbus A380 just yet. phichak/