Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 superjumbos to return to Sydney route on December 1

Singapore Airlines will bring back the world's largest passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380, to Australia after grounding its superjumbos for more than a year.

Singapore Airlines will put an A380 on its Singapore-Sydney route from Wednesday, December 1, the first time it has flown a superjumbo passenger flight to Australia since March 2020.

The return of the biggest passenger jet ever built by Singapore Airlines represents a significant milestone in the resumption of international travel and is indicative of the airline's expectation of a surge in demand.

Singapore Airlines regional vice-president Louis Arul says the return of the A380 shows the airline's commitment to the Australian market. The airline had continued to fly regularly to cities across Australia during the pandemic, despite the passenger caps imposed by hotel quarantine requirements.

"We have operated almost 4000 passenger flights, helping to bring close to 67,000 people to Australia, the vast majority being Australians wanting to return home, as well as 3000 cargo-only flights," Mr Arul said.

"With the NSW and Australian border opening up from November 1, the A380 will support even more Australians hoping to reconnect with loved ones ahead of the Christmas period."

On Saturday the airline announced it would release more than 32,000 seats between Singapore and Sydney for flights before Christmas in the wake of plans to relax Australia's international border restrictions.

Most airlines grounded their superjumbos due to the downturn in air travel during the pandemic, but several have now begun flying their A380s again. The exception has been China Southern, which continued to fly A380s from Guangzhou to Sydney and Melbourne despite passenger caps, though these have reportedly been to deliver cargo.

Qantas plans to bring several of its A380s back into service ahead of schedule. The airline's 12 A380s are currently parked in the Mojave Desert in California for long-term storage.

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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.

Emirates, with the world's largest fleet of A380s, only briefly grounded its superjumbos last year. Other airlines, including Qatar Airways and British Airways have recently announced the return of A380s to their networks.

Singapore Airlines was the launch customer for the biggest passenger jet ever built, which flew its first commercial service from Singapore to Sydney in October 2007. It arrived on the aviation scene with great fanfare - aside from its immense size and capacity to carry 471 passengers, it also featured innovations such as the world's first private suites on board, including the ability to create a double bed for first class passengers.

However, the giant plane quickly fell from grace as the smaller and more economical Boeing Dreamliner and its Airbus rival, the A350, were launched offering huge reductions in operating costs by requiring less fuel.

Facing a lack of future interest in the plane, Airbus scrapped production of the A380 with the last superjumbo rolling off the assembly line earlier this year. It will be delivered to Emirates, the largest customer for the aircraft, in November.

The outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent drop in global air travel exacerbated the decline of the aircraft, with many airlines bringing forward the retirement of some, if not all, of their A380 fleets.

Singapore Airlines had 19 A380s in its fleet at the start of the pandemic, but grounded the planes in March last year. Twelve were parked at Changi while a further seven were sent to a desert storage facility in Alice Springs.

The airline has since announced that seven of the planes will be retired, including two that are currently being scrapped at Changi Exhibition Centre.

Singapore Airlines will fly an A380 as flight SQ231 daily from Singapore to Sydney from December 1, departing Changi Airport at 12.45am local time and arriving at Sydney at 11.50am local time. The return flight, SQ222, will depart Sydney at 4.10pm.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said Singapore Airlines was the first carrier to resume flights to Australia using the A380. This was incorrect - China Southern has continued to fly A380s to Sydney and Melbourne during the pandemic.

See also: Two A380 superjumbos roll down public roads ahead of being scrapped

See also: Qantas frequent flyer spends millions of points on used A380 seats

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