British Airways is set to return its Airbus A380 jets to the skies in November amid the reopening of trans-Atlantic travel.
It comes as the carrier signed a contract extension in August with its maintenance company for the aircraft to continue flying for a few more years, despite the jet phasing out elsewhere.
“This is an exciting time for British Airways and our customers as we see borders reopening,” said Neil Chernoff, British Airways’ director of network and alliances.
“With welcome news from the US, we are dramatically increasing flights and bringing home some of our A380s to give our customers as many options as possible,” Chernoff added.
According to a press release, the London-based airline will initially operate the wide-bodies to a number of short-haul destinations to allow crew to “familiarise” themselves with a higher schedule.
Shortly after, the company will operate flights to Miami and Los Angeles in the United States, including Dubai in December.
The news comes as the US last month made the decision to open up its international borders to fully vaccinated foreign travelers – ending the trans-Atlantic travel pause enforced since March 2020.
No specific date has been slated yet, but the White House said the borders will open in early November to 33 countries, including the EU, UK, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil.
British Airways said it will fly to 23 US airports this winter, with up to 246 flights a week – “more than any other trans-Atlantic carrier,” according to the company.
The decision comes as the planemaker’s A380 continues to phase out across the globe due to presiding demand for narrow-body aircraft in the post-pandemic recovery.
In Europe, British Airways remains the last airline to maintain its A380s, as Lufthansa and Air France both retired its aircraft last year.
The company has 12 in its fleet and has extended its contract with them for a minimum of five years beginning in August 2022 to 2027 earliest.
The wide-body aircraft was the largest passenger airliner being manufactured, but on 14 February 2019, Airbus announced it would no longer produce the jet after 2021 following low demand.
Despite this, the long-haul workhorse is still being deployed at some airlines as travel demand grows.
Flag-carrier Qatar Airways – who operates 10 – revealed last week it would return its A380s to the sky after pledging it would never fly the jet again.
In a bid to mitigate increasing demand and its issues with Airbus’ A350 aircraft over fast deterioration, the company plans on returning, at minimum, five to the sky.