The first of a dozen Qantas A380s landed at the Victorville aircraft storage site in southern California. Australia’s long-haul airline is parking its A380 fleet while its international flights are on hiatus. But many are also wondering if the A380s will leave the aircraft storage site again.
Monday July 6, VH-OQE Laurent Hargrave operating as QF6001 departed Melbourne Tullamarine Airport. The plane flew nonstop to Victorville, a 13,150-kilometer trans-Pacific jump that took just under 14 hours. VH-OQE landed in Victorville at 11:02 a.m. (local time) the same day.
First of a dozen Qantas A380s to move to Victorville
The the plane has been inactive in Melbourne since mid-March after taking a commercial flight from Los Angeles. Of the remaining 11 Qantas A380s, two are in Melbourne, three in Sydney, three in Los Angeles, two in Dresden and one in Abu Dhabi.
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While no one expected Qantas A380s to fly and carry passengers anytime soon, the Qantas boss Alan Joyce has lowered all expectations again at a press conference at the end of June, stating:
“The planes are put in the Mojave Desert, where the environment protects the planes because we intend at the right time to restart them, but that’s in a considerable amount of time.
“The A380s must remain on the ground for at least three years until these international volumes are brought back.
“There is a potential to bring back the 12 A380s, but there is a potential to bring back less than 12.”
A grim prediction from Qantas
It’s a bleak prospect for an airline that has always been too promising and under-delivered. COVID-19 saw Qantas reset its messaging. The future scenario that Qantas is now painting for its A380 and international flight, in general, is grim.
“We think the international will take a long time – nothing in the next fiscal year – and next July we may start seeing international services and that won’t get us to 50% until the following year,” says Alan Joyce.
But without resumption of A380 services on the horizon, the pace of aircraft relocation to Victorville could accelerate.
Qantas A380s will be in good company in Victorville
Victorville is just 145 kilometers northeast of Los Angeles and is on the site of the former George Air Force Base. Although the airport is best known as an aircraft storage location, it is also an important maintenance and logistics center.
The main activity of maintenance, storage and dismantling at Victorville is the technical services of ComAv. They provide asset management, technical services, integrated aviation solutions, engine management and airframe teardown for up to 500 aircraft. They also have hanging space for 20 large planes.
VH-OQE will be in good company in Victorville. Two Boeing 747-8 intended to operate as Air Force One are in Victorville. One has been there since early 2017, the other since 2019. Both are being modified to meet US Air Force One specifications.
The parking lot Qantas A380 in Victorville is part of some important changes at Qantas. The airline’s last Boeing 747 will depart in mid-July. An airline that used to be synonymous with big planes now offers A330s and Boeing 787-9s as high-capacity planes. It’s a big change.