Will Qantas’ A380 will return to the skies in October?

Australia’s 14 day quarantine has essentially closed the country to tourist traffic, while a ban on overseas travel prevents Australians from traveling international. As a result, Qantas has trimmed down its schedule dramatically. Last year Qantas flew over 4,000 flights per week. Today, you’ll see less than ten flights operating per day from Qantas’ hubs in Melbourne and Sydney.

With no sign of easing travel restrictions, Qantas has trimmed down its schedule considerably for the next six months. The airline has removed most international flights from its schedule until late March, which of course means that the airline’s A380 fleet will remain mostly grounded as well.

There is one interesting exception. Starting on October 25, it appears that Qantas will resume flights between SYD and SIN. QF1 is scheduled to depart from SYD at 17:00 on October 25 and land in SIN at 22:05. It will depart from SIN the following day as QF2 and land in SYD on October 27 (+1 day) at 06:10.

You can’t book this flight through Qantas; it’s only bookable through Emirates as EK5003. Additionally,  it appears that Emirates is only selling first class for this route.

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Qantas has had an alliance with Emirates for many years, and is likely operating this route to support Emirates’ passengers flying between DXB, SIN and SYD. Emirates flies three nonstop flights daily between SYD and DXB, but also sells many flights to Australia with stopovers in SIN. Emirates operates its own 777 flight between MEL and SIN, as well.

The appearance of a Qantas A380 on the schedule conflicts with a statement last from Qantas’ CEO, Alan Joyce, that the airline is “…parking the A380s for at least three years”. Seat maps for flights QF1 and 2 show that there is indeed a Qantas A380 operating on the routes, and some (albeit very few) seats, including a handful in first class, are occupied.

It’s possible that Qantas will swap out the A380 for another aircraft. But, this will be difficult since Emirates is only selling first class tickets on QF1 and 2, and the A380 is the only Qantas aircraft that has a first class cabin.

Qantas’ other A380s also appear on the airlines schedule starting on March 28, 2021. On this day, the following A380 departures are scheduled from Qantas’ hubs in SYD and MEL:

  • SYD to SIN
  • SYD to DFW
  • MEL to SIN
  • MEL to LAX

These flights are bookable via Qantas’ website. Qantas is selling first class seats on these flights as well, making an aircraft swap difficult.

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There are a number of possible reasons for the disconnect between Qantas’ stated plans to ground the A380 and its schedule. We’re hoping that the A380 will continue to make an appearance on at least a few Qantas routes, although it’s also possible that this is a temporary scheduling error.