Qantas international flights: Airbus A380 superjumbos to return to service earlier than planned

Qantas plans to bring several of its Airbus A380s superjumbos back into service ahead of schedule, but two won't fly for the airline again.

The airline's 12 A380s are currently parked in the Mojave Desert in California for long-term storage.

Qantas now plans to bring five of the superjumbos back into service early, starting from July next year. Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce previously said he did not expect the A380s to start flying again until 2023.

The planes will fly the Sydney to Los Angeles route from July next year, before resuming the Sydney-Singapore-London route in November.

"These were key markets for Qantas before COVID and given how well they have recovered, we expect travel demand on these routes to be strong enough for the A380," Mr Joyce said.

"We have the flexibility to bring back the other five A380s by early 2024, depending on how quickly the market recovers."

Mr Joyce said the remaining two A380s would be retired.

The announcement regarding the airline's superjumbo fleet formed part of its plan to restart international flights by Christmas, based on the assumption that vaccination rates will be high within Australia and those returning from overseas will be able to quarantine at home rather than in a hotel.

"It's obviously up to government exactly how and when our international borders re-open, but with Australia on track to meet the 80 per cent trigger agreed by national cabinet by the end of the year, we need to plan ahead for what is a complex restart process," Mr Joyce said.

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Qantas has completed its refurbishment program for its A380s during their grounding.

The changes include replacing the older Skybed business class seats with the airline's newer Business Suites, which allow all business class passengers direct access to the aisle.

The previous cabin design saw passengers in window seats having to climb over their neighbour, when in flatbed mode, to access the aisle.The number of premium economy seats have been increased from 35 to 60.

Qantas has stored its A380s in California, rather than at the Australian aircraft storage facility near Alice Springs, for practical purposes. The airline has engineers based at Los Angeles International Airport, a relatively short drive away, which made Mojave a more convenient location than Alice Springs, according to the airline.

However, the airline did recently reveal one challenge of the location was rattlesnakes, which have a tendency to sleep inside the landing gear.

While the A380s will fly from Sydney, Qantas indicated its Boeing 787 Dreamliner service from Melbourne to London may change its stopover location.

The flight currently stops in Perth before flying to London non-stop - the world's only direct route between Australia and Europe - but the airline has indicated it is now looking at flying via Darwin instead. Western Australia's tough state border policies were cited as the reason for looking at alternatives.

See also: Singapore A380 kicks up desert dust as it departs Australian storage facility

See also: ​Why the new Qantas ad has all of Australia talking (and crying)

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