Qantas was one of the first airlines to operate the A380 and, in total, received 12 airframes. While the airline’s A380 fleet size has shrunk since then, Qantas is still investing considerable resources to keep the superjumbos in the air.
Continue reading to see how many Qantas A380s are active, what routes they operate, and whether there are any plans to retire them.
Qantas A380 Routes
While in the past Qantas used its A380s on flights both out of Sydney and Melbourne, currently, the aircraft is only used on routes out of Sydney. More specifically, the Qantas A380 operates flights from Sydney to:
- Los Angeles
- London Heathrow via Singapore
On the Los Angeles route, the Qantas A380 is scheduled to appear six times a week until the end of January 2023. It is scheduled on flights QF11/QF12 which for the time being operate every day except for Thursday. On Thursdays, flights QF17/QF18 connect Sydney with Los Angeles and are scheduled as Boeing 787.
From January 30, 2023, the A380 is scheduled to fly to Los Angeles daily on the QF11/QF12 rotation. In addition to that, Qantas also plans to operate the QF17/QF18 rotation using Boeing 787 nearly every Monday or Sunday.
The route connecting Sydney with London Heathrow via Singapore is scheduled to be operated once a day for the rest of the year as flights QF1/QF2.
Qantas has fifth freedom rights on the route and so it is possible for passengers to fly only the Singapore – London Heathrow segment too in addition to flying all the way from Sydney to London or from Sydney to Singapore. The airline operates one more daily flight between Sydney and Singapore – QF81/QF82 – with Airbus A330. It also operates non-stop flights between Perth and London using Boeing 787.
In addition to the currently operated routes, Qantas will also put the A380 on its Sydney – Johannesburg route (QF63/QF64) from July 8, 2024. While this will not be the first A380 route operated fully within the Southern Hemisphere, it will be the longest one.
Qantas A380 Fleet
Between 2008 and 2011, Qantas received a total of 12 A380s from Airbus. It was the third operator of the type after Singapore Airlines and Emirates. However, just like most other operators of the type did, all Qantas A380s were grounded after March 2020. Luckily for aviation enthusiasts, most of those have been brought back into service.
Currently, eight Qantas A380s are active:
- VH-OQB (MSN 15, delivered in 2008)
- VH-OQD (MSN 26, delivered in 2009)
- VH-OQG (MSN 47, delivered in 2010)
- VH-OQH (MSN 50, delivered in 2011)
- VH-OQJ (MSN 62, delivered in 2011)
- VH-OQK (MSN 63, delivered in 2011)
- VH-OQL (MSN 74, delivered in 2011)
- VH-OQI (MSN 55, delivered in 2011)
One additional airframe – VH-OQA (MSN 14, delivered in 2008) was flown from Victorville where it was stored to Abu Dhabi, presumably to be reactivated.
Qantas A380 Seat Configuration
Two different cabin configurations can be found onboard Qantas A380s. While they are both four-class (first, business, premium economy, economy), they differ in their seat count and types.
The original configuration can still be found on three airframes – VH-OQA, VH-OQC, and VH-OQL. The first two are, as mentioned earlier, being reactivated; the last one is stored. It is not clear whether these will be refurbished before they enter into service.
In either case, the aircraft in the older configuration are equipped with a total of 484 seats – 14 in first class, 64 in business class, 35 in premium economy, and 371 in economy class. First class is at the very front of the main deck; business and premium economy class cabins are on the upper deck. The vast majority of economy class – 341 seats – can be found on the main deck with the remaining 30 seats being located in a small cabin at the very back of the upper deck.
The newer configuration can be found on all other active airframes. It has more business and premium economy class seats compared to the older configuration at the expense of some economy class seats. In this configuration, there are 485 seats – 14 in first class, 70 in business class, 60 in premium economy, and 341 in economy class. First class and economy class are on the main deck while business class and premium economy are on the upper deck.
What makes both of the configurations unique is a lounge space at the very front of the upper deck.
On the other hand, there are two key differences between the two configurations:
- Business class seats in the new configuration are in a 1-2-1 staggered configuration with direct aisle access for each seat as opposed to the older 2-2-2 full-flat configuration
- Economy class is only installed on the main deck in the new configuration; the economy class on the older configuration’s upper deck is more comfortable as the cabin is small and the seating layout is 2-4-2 as opposed to the main deck’s 3-4-3
Qantas A380 Retirement Plans
In addition to the eight A380s that Qantas either reactivated or is in the process of doing so, the airline also has two A380s that are currently stored:
- VH-OQC (MSN 22, delivered in 2008)
- VH-OQE (MSN 27, delivered in 2009)
One of those – VH-OQC is expected to be refurbished with new cabins and put back into service by 2024, resulting in a 10-strong A380 fleet for Qantas. As for VH-OQE, Qantas plans to scrap it. A similar fate met VH-OQF (MSN 29, delivered in 2010) which was scrapped last year.
All in all, while Qantas retired two of the 12 A380s it initially operated, the currently active aircraft are expected to remain in service for about another decade. Recently, Executive Traveller reported Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce saying “…as part of the pipeline we’re building, I can announce [the A380s] will be replaced by the Airbus A350 from about FY32 onwards.”
Qantas currently has eight A380s active with another one likely being prepared for return into service.
Currently, the aircraft can be seen on flights from Sydney to Los Angeles, from Sydney to Singapore, and from Singapore to London Heathrow. Next year, the Qantas A380 will also appear on flights to South Africa.
While the days of the Qantas A380 are counted, luckily, they will still be around for another decade or so.
First published on 2023/01/12. Last updated on 2023/08/25 to include the latest information about the number of active airframes, routes, and retirement plans.