Contrary to the growing ranks of airlines explicitly or implicitly saying they won't reactivate their A380-800s, British Airways (BA, London Heathrow) remains committed to the type and hopes to have it back in active service, chief executive Sean Doyle has told The Independent.

"The A380 isn't flying at the minute but it is in our plans for the future rebuild of the airline. Exactly when we will put the A380 back into service is something that we’re not clear on," he said.

The carrier has twelve of the Airbus quadjets in long-term storage dispersed between Teruel (three aircraft), Madrid Barajas (five), Doha Hamad International (three), and London Heathrow (one after ferry flight from Madrid on March 16, 2021). BA owns eleven of them, while the remaining unit is dry-leased by AerCap, the ch-aviation fleets ownership module shows. The dozen aircraft are 6.9 years old on average.

Lufthansa, Air France, Hi Fly Malta, and most recently Etihad Airways have disclosed they will not be bringing their respective A380s back into service. Other carriers, including Thai Airways International and Qantas, have placed their A380s in long-term storage with their return uncertain at best.

BA retired all 32 of its remaining B747-400s in 2020. As such, the A380s are its only quadjets.

Despite his insistence that the A380s would return to active service, Doyle said that the timing was impossible to predict. As BA does not expect to return to the pre-pandemic levels of traffic before 2023-2024, he would not elaborate on the carrier's forecast for 2021 ahead of the presentation of a British government recovery roadmap scheduled for mid-April. However, he said that the expected lifting of some travel restrictions after May 17 was already contributing to a spike in bookings for flights starting on that day.

Doyle, who used to head fellow IAG International Airlines Group unit Aer Lingus before joining British Airways, said initial recovery would be driven by visiting friends and relatives as well as premium leisure traffic.