Qantas (QF, Sydney Kingsford Smith) will not meet its stated goal of reactivating its remaining A380-800 fleet by the end of 2024, blaming backlogs at external MRO providers and supply chain constraints.

Qantas ferried its twelve A380-800s to California for long-term storage at the pandemic's start. The airline later decided to reactivate ten of the twelve aircraft. Eight of the ten A380-800s returned are back in service, while two, VH-OQA (msn 14) and VH-OQC (msn 22), have been in Abu Dhabi International for maintenance for over 12 months, with no date yet fixed for their return to Australia. Separately, a third A380-800, VH-OQL (msn 74), is about to be taken out of service over the IATA Northern Summer season for cabin refurbishment, leaving Qantas with seven A380s for a period of time.

"Supplier delays and supply chain issues, including maintenance workforce and hangar availability, have impacted the plans for routine heavy maintenance and cabin upgrades on some A380 aircraft," wrote Nick Bull, Qantas' Head of International Cabin Crew, in an internal staff email last week. "These issues are not unique to Qantas and are impacting airlines globally."

Bull goes on to outline the changes to the published schedules between July and October the A380 shortfall will cause, including:

  • The planned swapping out of B787-9 flights for A380-800 flights on the Sydney - Johannesburg O.R. Tambo city pair in July is now - delayed three months;
  • The planned increase in the B787-9-operated Sydney - Auckland International - New York JFK service from four weekly roundtrips to six will now occur in October rather than August;
  • The B787-9 will operate the daily Melbourne Tullamarine - Los Angeles International roundtrips on five days each week, with the A380-800s doing two roundtrips per week;
  • B787-9-operated Sydney - Santiago de Chile roundtrips will reduce from four to three per week between July and late September;
  • B787-9-operated Sydney - Dallas/Fort Worth roundtrips will reduce from daily to six per week between July and late August; and
  • The current nine roundtrips per week on the Sydney - Los Angeles city pair will reduce to seven, with all operated by the A380-800.

"We are planning to have seven A380s flying by early October," said Bull. Aside from Los Angeles, Qantas also operates the A380-800 on its daily Sydney - Singapore Changi - London Heathrow service, which is not impacted by the scheduling changes.