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Singapore Airlines A380 leaves Alice Springs for new cabin and to go back into service.

February 24, 2021 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

According to a report by Australian Aviation’s Adam Thorn, a Singapore Airlines A380 left  storage in Alice Springs on Monday morning to be fitted with a new cabin to eventually return to service.

The Airbus A380-841, 9V-SKQ msn 079, departed Alice Springs at 10:03 AM and as flight SQ8896 and landed in Sydney at 3:07 PM, where it will undergo checks following it being ‘thawed out’ from its spell in the desert.

Singapore Airlines was the launch customer for the double-decker, but it is set to retire seven of its A380 but crucially keep 12 in service.

The flights comes despite speculation the aircraft is nearing the end of its time in the skies, globally, with Air France retiring its entire fleet, while Airbus has already began suspending production.

Singapore Airlines in a statement to Australian Aviation said, “Singapore Airlines can confirm that one of our Airbus A380 aircraft that was stored in Alice Springs has begun its planned return to Singapore ahead of a schedule retro-fitting and maintenance programme,” adding, “The aircraft, registration 9V-SKQ, has been moved to Sydney to undergo routine checks following its storage, before returning to Singapore where it will be retro-fitted as part of our plan to have all 12 remaining A380 in our fleet fitted with the latest A380 cabin product.”

This vote of confidence in the A380 comes after Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said earlier this month he believes the airline’s A380 fleet will still be profitable when the COVID crisis ends, with in an interview with Brussels-based Eurocontrol, Joyce said it was “heartbreaking” to see the aircraft stored in the Mojave Desert and insisted that curfews and expensive airport slots meant flying them will still be profitable.

He added, “We have reconfigured six of them with brand new product onboards” and “In fact, one aircraft just being reconfigured flew directly to the Mojave Desert,” adding, “It’s there with new seats on it and that nobody’s ever sat on, which is unbelievably disappointing”, and “But we do think if you look at the Qantas’ network, there are going to be opportunities to deploy those aircraft.”

He also said, “We do have scheduling windows, because if you if you’ve ever been in LA, at between 10 o’clock and midnight, you see six or seven Qantas aircraft departing to Australia, because it’s the only time that works with curfews, so instead of flying multiple frequencies right on top of each other.”

He added, “An A380, that’s fully or nearly fully written down, if it generates cash, will absolutely work” and, “Airports that have slot restrictions, like Heathrow, where a slot is extremely expensive, then the aircraft works for that,” and “And the similar scheduling windows that worked for Australia are unique.”

He said, “So we do believe there’s a need for that fleet,” and “And we do believe that it will generate cash”, and “It’s all going to be about cash when we start up international.”

Meanwhile, Australian Aviation reported in September 2020 how the Alice Springs boneyard was reaching its new expanded capacity of 100 aircraft after the Northern Territory government invested $3.5 million into the site in July with the NT government making the investment, which included building new roads to ensure the facility’s capacity could be quickly doubled, to help create 55 local jobs.

Tom Vincent, who owns the Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage (APAS) maintenance facility, previously told the ABC that parking spaces were “definitely in demand”., adding, “As soon as extra spots for storage come online, there are aircraft filling those spots.”

In July 2020, the facility was storing 44 aircraft and had already received a $1 million infrastructure grant.

The investment package doubled its workforce and is predicted to inject more than $10 million dollars, directly and indirectly, into the state’s economy, with before the pandemic, APAS was home to just 18 aircraft at any one time.

Like many so-called boneyards, APAS is chosen by airlines because its low precipitation and hot weather reduce rust, while staff are on-hand to carry out the 100-plus maintenance tasks per year required to keep aircraft operational.

An edited report from Australian Aviation by John Alwyn-Jones

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