Qantas looks set to welcome its seventh A380 back into service imminently after another one of its superjumbos left Abu Dhabi to return to Sydney.
VH-OQL was previously stationed in the UAE capital, where it was receiving a cabin upgrade, before it flew home on 4 February. Days later, it was spotted flying around NSW.
Australian Aviation can reveal that another of the Flying Kangaroo’s fleet, VH-OQI, has flown from the Victorville desert ‘boneyard’ to LA, where it will likely be checked over by Qantas engineers before receiving its own onboard refresh.
The Flying Kangaroo grounded its entire fleet of 12 A380s during the pandemic, with most sent to the Californian desert.
The business has been slowly returning them to active service, though plans to scrap two permanently.
VH-OQB, VH-OQD, VH-OQH, VH-OQK, VH-OQJ, and now VH-OQG have returned to active operations, but VH-OQC and VH-OQI remain in the US.
VH-OQA is currently in Abu Dhabi, but VH-OQF has already been dismantled, with speculation that it will be joined on the scrap heap by VH-OQE.
A Qantas A380 made national news at Christmas when one en route to London made an emergency landing in Baku.
The incident happened after a sensor light alerted pilots to the possibility of smoke in the cargo hold days before Christmas.
The aircraft turned around above Tbilisi, Georgia, before touching down in Azerbaijan.
Investigations later revealed no evidence of smoke, meaning the incident was due to a fault with the sensor and a false alarm.
Qantas dispatched a recovery flight, which landed in the British capital on Christmas Day.
The grounded aircraft, VH-OQH, was later deemed safe to fly and returned to commercial service days later.
VH-OQA, Qantas’ first A380, was involved in arguably Australian aviation’s most serious-ever safety incident, when its Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine exploded shortly after it took off, causing a major fire in November 2010. It subsequently returned to service.
Australian Aviation also reported this week how Qantas deployed VH-OQJ to fly across the Tasman to help customers who saw their services cancelled earlier this week because of storm Gabrielle.
The Flying Kangaroo was forced to cancel or turn back services on Tuesday when Auckland Airport suspended all operations later in the day.
The A380 departed Sydney at 10:53 am on Wednesday as flight QF143 and landed in Auckland at 3:32 pm.
The aircraft provides far more capacity than the usual 737-800s that carry 174 passengers or A330s that carry 251 passengers.
Qantas’ A380s usually only fly to longer haul destinations such as Dallas/Fort Worth, Hong Kong, LA, Singapore and London.