Qantas’ iconic A380 aircraft returned to Sydney on Tuesday, 593 days after it departed Australian shores.
Qantas is bringing five A380s with upgraded cabins back to Aussie shores ahead of schedule in response to strong demand for international travel, particularly on key routes to Los Angeles and London.
Two will operate flights to Los Angeles from April 2022, and three will operate flights to London from July 2022.
A sixth aircraft will arrive before the end of 2022, with the remaining four A380s expected to return to service by early 2024.
Originally set to remain in long-term storage in the Californian desert until the end of 2023, Hudson Fysh, named after one of Qantas’ founders, touched down at Sydney Airport around 3pm (AEDT) yesterday, more than 19 hours after it departed Dresden, Germany.
The aircraft recently underwent scheduled maintenance for new landing gear, after spending the best part of two years in storage during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The superjumbo jet will undergo additional maintenance checks in Australia before taking to the skies again in the coming weeks as part of crew training.
Qantas’ chief pilot, captain Richard Tobiano, said it was a terrific day not just for Qantas crew, but also passengers who love flying onboard the national carrier’s flagship aircraft.
“The early return is symbolic of how quickly demand for international travel has bounced back, and this aircraft will play a key role in preparing our crew to return to A380 flying operations in the new year,” Tobiano said.
“Many of our crew have found other jobs during the pandemic doing everything from working in vaccination hubs and hospital wards to driving buses and tractors, and painting houses.
“Over the next few months, pilots will undergo an extensive retraining period including simulator sessions, training flights and classroom courses to prepare for take-off.”
While it wasn’t flying during the pandemic, the aircraft was cared for by Qantas engineers who carried out regular inspections before it flew to Dresden earlier this year.
Six of Qantas’ A380s have had an interior redesign featuring a new premium upper deck with a new supper club-style lounge and brand-new seats across the business-class and premium Eeconomy cabins, as well as a main deck refresh including new carpet and curtains. The remaining aircraft will be refitted before they return to service.
The 485-seat A380 is the only aircraft in the Qantas fleet that offers a first-class cabin, which is popular with frequent flyers for its comfortable suites with fully lay flatbeds, premium Neil Perry multi-course dining experience, award-winning Australian wine cellar and Martin Grant-designed first-class PJs.