Another airline is retiring the world's largest passenger plane after just under 3 years of service as the pandemic keeps long-haul flyers grounded. See inside Hi Fly's Airbus A380.



Slide 1 of 38:  Portuguese charter airline Hi Fly will be retiring its largest aircraft, the Airbus A380, after nearly three years of service. Hi Fly operates the only secondhand A380 which it uses for recovery, repatriation, and medical supply flights under its wet-lease and charter purview. The passenger cabin of the massive Airbus A380 had been hollowed out so the jet can carry more medical cargo to assist in humanitarian efforts related to COVID-19. The world's largest passenger jet, the A380 in Hi Fly's configuration could seat nearly 500 passengers with amenities and features held over from its former owner, Singapore Airlines. Portuguese charter airline Hi Fly will be retiring its sole Airbus A380 by the end of the year after nearly three years of service.As the only dedicated charter operator of the A380 – the world's largest passenger plane complete with four engines and two full levels – Hi Fly was able to airlift over 400 people at a time, making the jet invaluable during evacuation or repatriation scenarios.Its mission changed in March, though, with the start of the pandemic and the aircraft has been taking to the skies over the past few months to fly medical cargo as part of the global COVID-19 airlift. While participating early in the pandemic flying a handful of evacuation flights from China, the A380 was briefly grounded before the outbreaks in Europe and North America for maintenance in Beja, Portugal. The aircraft quickly returned to the skies and completed a four-day trip literally around the world flying medical supplies in May.Hi Fly even hollowed out the aircraft to make room for more cargo as the pandemic continued, making it the first cargo-configured Airbus A380. But Hi Fly won't be renewing the aircraft's lease, citing a lack of demand for travel due to the pandemic that it was helping fight. The airline's past exploits with the A380 include assisting in the repatriation of British citizens when Thomas Cook Airlines collapsed leaving thousands trapped overseas and subbing in for Norwegian Long Haul's Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the New York-London route. Take a look inside the massive soon-to-be-retired passenger-turned-cargo A380.Read the original article on Business Insider
Slide 2 of 38: Hi Fly was the first secondhand operator of an A380, taking delivery of the superjumbo in 2018 after Singapore Airlines opted not to continue with the plane.
Slide 3 of 38: Instead of the standard white Hi Fly uses for its aircraft, the charter carrier opted to paint its new A380 in a special under-the-sea livery to spread a call to action: "save the coral reefs."
Slide 4 of 38: Source: Hi Fly

Slide 5 of 38: Source: French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs
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Slide 18 of 38: The A380 isn't for every mission, as Norwegian Air found when it used the aircraft to cover its New York-London route instead of its usual Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Slide 19 of 38: Terminal 1 at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport couldn't handle another A380, as it already sees multiple superjumbos from Lufthansa, Air France, and Korean Air. Delays were averaging four hours during the aircraft's tenure.
Slide 20 of 38: When it comes to airlifting the greatest number of people home after being stranded, however, there is no better plane in terms of capacity and comfort than the A380. Airport permitting, of course.
Slide 21 of 38: Source: Hi Fly
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Slide 24 of 38: Source: Hi Fly and FlightAware
Slide 25 of 38: Source: Hi FlyRead More: Air Canada is ripping seats out of aircraft across its fleet to turn them into cargo planes. See inside the new Boeing 777 and Dash 8-400 temporary conversions.
Slide 26 of 38: Source: Hi Fly
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Slide 31 of 38: The plans also allow Hi Fly to pack overhead storage compartments with boxes to maximize the load.
Slide 32 of 38: All that new cargo space is in addition to the belly space underneath the aircraft where large pallets can be loaded using machinery. The rest of the boxes will need to be loaded and unloaded in the superjumbo jet by hand.
Slide 33 of 38: Read More: Double-decker planes are going extinct as Airbus and Boeing discontinue their largest models. Here's why airlines are abandoning 4-engine jets.
Slide 34 of 38: Read More: Airbus just trucked its final A380 fuselage through a small French village as the world's largest airliner is killed off
Slide 35 of 38: Read More: I flew on an Air France Airbus A380 2 years before the airline suddenly retired the world's largest passenger plane — here's what it was like
Slide 36 of 38: Read More: Even more iconic planes are disappearing from the sky earlier than planned as the coronavirus continues to wreak airline havoc
Slide 37 of 38: Read More: Singapore Airlines is turning a parked A380 superjumbo jet into a restaurant to cater to a travel-hungry population, and the most expensive meal is over $400
Slide 38 of 38: Coupled with a lack of demand, airlines are also finding the jets too expensive to operate compared to smaller, more efficient models, forcing their exit from the skies earlier than expected.

Another airline is retiring the world’s largest passenger plane after just under 3 years of service as the pandemic keeps long-haul flyers grounded. See inside Hi Fly’s Airbus A380.

Portuguese charter airline Hi Fly will be retiring its sole Airbus A380 by the end of the year after nearly three years of service.

As the only dedicated charter operator of the A380 – the world’s largest passenger plane complete with four engines and two full levels – Hi Fly was able to airlift over 400 people at a time, making the jet invaluable during evacuation or repatriation scenarios.

Its mission changed in March, though, with the start of the pandemic and the aircraft has been taking to the skies over the past few months to fly medical cargo as part of the global COVID-19 airlift. 

While participating early in the pandemic flying a handful of evacuation flights from China, the A380 was briefly grounded before the outbreaks in Europe and North America for maintenance in Beja, Portugal. The aircraft quickly returned to the skies and completed a four-day trip literally around the world flying medical supplies in May.

Hi Fly even hollowed out the aircraft to make room for more cargo as the pandemic continued, making it the first cargo-configured Airbus A380. But Hi Fly won’t be renewing the aircraft’s lease, citing a lack of demand for travel due to the pandemic that it was helping fight. 

The airline’s past exploits with the A380 include assisting in the repatriation of British citizens when Thomas Cook Airlines collapsed leaving thousands trapped overseas and subbing in for Norwegian Long Haul’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the New York-London route. 

Take a look inside the massive soon-to-be-retired passenger-turned-cargo A380.

Hi Fly was the first secondhand operator of an A380, taking delivery of the superjumbo in 2018 after Singapore Airlines opted not to continue with the plane.

Instead of the standard white Hi Fly uses for its aircraft, the charter carrier opted to paint its new A380 in a special under-the-sea livery to spread a call to action: “save the coral reefs.”

When the A380 joined the fleet, it replaced Hi Fly’s Airbus A340 as the largest of the airline’s planes. While the A380 was in maintenance, the A340 was used to fly from Lisbon, Portugal to Shanghai, China to pick up medical supplies and personal protective equipment, Hi Fly told Business Insider.

Source: Hi Fly

Before it was grounded for maintenance, the French government chartered the A380 twice to fly to deliver medical equipment to China and evacuate citizens from Wuhan, ground zero for the novel coronavirus.

Source: French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs

As the world’s largest passenger jet, the A380 is ideal for evacuation or repatriation flights as it has 471 seats across three cabins: economy, business, and first.

Source: Hi Fly

The lower level of the A380 holds the majority of the seats, with the economy class configured in a standard 3-4-3 configuration and a 12-seat first-class section in the first four rows.

Source: Hi Fly

As the aircraft was formerly operated by Singapore Airlines, known for its lavish amenities and onboard product, seats feature in-flight entertainment systems and in-seat power.

Source: Hi Fly

Hi Fly also maintained most of the Singapore Airlines look as seen with the stylish interior. Economy seats can also be found on the upper level, divided between economy and business to maximize capacity, and feature a generous 32 inches of legroom

Source: Hi Fly

First-class and economy class are on the lower level while business class and a small section of economy class can be found on the upper deck, a short trip up the stairs.

Source: Hi Fly

The business class section features 60 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration offering direct aisle access.

Source: Hi Fly

The seats are the same plush seats found on Singapore Airlines and include fully lie-flat capabilities.

Source: Hi Fly

In-flight entertainment is provided via massive screens controllable by touch or remote.

Source: Hi Fly

The seats aren’t ideal for density on repatriation flights but do offer a premium cabin when recovering for an airline.

Source: Hi Fly

The most unique holdover from Singapore Airlines, however, is the opulent first-class section on the lower deck.

Source: Hi Fly

The A380 comes with 12 extravagant first-class suites complete with lie-flat seats and closable doors for privacy.

Source: Hi Fly

The highlight of the cabin is the joinable suites where a double bed can be made, ideal for couples traveling together.

Source: Hi Fly

The A380 isn’t for every mission, as Norwegian Air found when it used the aircraft to cover its New York-London route instead of its usual Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Terminal 1 at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport couldn’t handle another A380, as it already sees multiple superjumbos from Lufthansa, Air France, and Korean Air. Delays were averaging four hours during the aircraft’s tenure.

When it comes to airlifting the greatest number of people home after being stranded, however, there is no better plane in terms of capacity and comfort than the A380. Airport permitting, of course.

One of its first missions back involved flying from Tianjin, China to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to transport medical supplies to the island nation.

Source: Hi Fly

From its base in Beja, the A380 flew east to China and then continued east to the Dominican Republic and eventually back to Portugal, circumnavigating the globe in four days.

Source: Hi Fly

The mission began on May 14 and ended on May 18 with nearly 34 hours and 20,000 miles of flying completed during the two-stop trip.

Source: Hi Fly

The longest sector was between Tianjin and Santo Domingo, a near-7,500-nautical mile sector that took just over 16 hours to fly.

Source: Hi Fly and FlightAware

With the demand for cargo flights rising and not enough planes to carry the loads, Hi Fly decided to make more room for boxes with A380 now joining the growing number of airlines taking the seats out of their passenger planes to fly more freight.

Source: Hi Fly

Read More: Air Canada is ripping seats out of aircraft across its fleet to turn them into cargo planes. See inside the new Boeing 777 and Dash 8-400 temporary conversions.

Boasting the world’s largest passenger cabin, the A380 proved to be a suitable candidate for the conversion.

Source: Hi Fly

Economy class cabins on both floors have been cleared out to store boxes, with nearly 165 cubic meters of additional space available.

Source: Hi Fly

The luxurious business and first class sections have remained intact, likely due to the complexity involved with removing the premium cabin seats.

Source: Hi Fly

This is the first Airbus A380 to receive the cargo modification that’s been widely popular among global airlines as passenger traffic has vanished.

Source: Hi Fly

Germany’s Lufthansa Technik designed the process with Portuguese maintenance provider Mesa executing it, Hi Fly told Business Insider in an email.

Source: Hi Fly

The plans also allow Hi Fly to pack overhead storage compartments with boxes to maximize the load.

All that new cargo space is in addition to the belly space underneath the aircraft where large pallets can be loaded using machinery. The rest of the boxes will need to be loaded and unloaded in the superjumbo jet by hand.

But Hi Fly is now joining airlines around the world in retiring the A380, along with the Boeing 747, as there’s no passenger demand for the aircraft.

Read More: Double-decker planes are going extinct as Airbus and Boeing discontinue their largest models. Here’s why airlines are abandoning 4-engine jets.

In France, Airbus is currently building the last new A380 for Emirates, the largest operator of the type.

Read More: Airbus just trucked its final A380 fuselage through a small French village as the world’s largest airliner is killed off

While Air France abruptly retired its A380 fleet in May…

Read More: I flew on an Air France Airbus A380 2 years before the airline suddenly retired the world’s largest passenger plane — here’s what it was like

Qantas has grounded its Airbus A380 fleet as Australia’s borders remained closed…

Read More: Even more iconic planes are disappearing from the sky earlier than planned as the coronavirus continues to wreak airline havoc

And Singapore Airlines turned one of its A380s into a restaurant in October

Read More: Singapore Airlines is turning a parked A380 superjumbo jet into a restaurant to cater to a travel-hungry population, and the most expensive meal is over $400

Coupled with a lack of demand, airlines are also finding the jets too expensive to operate compared to smaller, more efficient models, forcing their exit from the skies earlier than expected.

Source: Read Full Article