A familiar and hard-to-miss sight has returned to Australian skies today with one of Qantas’ iconic A380 aircraft, Hudson Fysh landing back in Sydney, almost 600 days after it departed Australian shores.
The Qantas A380, named after one of Qantas’ founders, touched down at Sydney Airport around 3.00 pm on Tuesday 9 November, more than 19 hours after it departed the grey skies of Dresden, Germany.
The airline says the aircraft recently underwent scheduled maintenance for new landing gear, after spending the best part of two years being looked after in storage by Qantas engineers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Its early return comes as the airline gears up for the first two of the superjumbos to return to service in April 2022, following strong demand for international travel, particularly on key routes to Los Angeles and London.
Qantas has taken close to half a million domestic bookings in the past two weeks, compared with around 20,000 in a two-week period in August.
Demand for seats on Qantas’ London to Sydney service has also been extremely strong, with Aussies reuniting with family and friends in time for Christmas and more flights added as a result.
Originally expected to remain in long-term storage in the Californian desert until the end of 2023, Qantas has since announced that five A380s with upgraded cabins would return ahead of schedule with two to operate flights to Los Angeles from April 2022 and three to operate flights to London from November 2022.
The airline says it is now working to further accelerate the return of the A380s, with superjumbo flights to London brought forward to July 2022.
In addition, a sixth aircraft will arrive before the end of the calendar year 2022, with the remaining four A380s expected to return to service by early 2024.
Hudson Fysh will undergo additional maintenance checks in Australia before taking to the skies again in the coming weeks as part of crew training.
Qantas Chief Pilot Captain Richard Tobiano said it was a terrific day, not just for Qantas crew but also passengers who love flying onboard the national carrier’s flagship aircraft.
“The A380 is a fantastic aircraft and we are very excited to welcome it home today. The early return is symbolic of how quickly demand for international travel has bounced back and this aircraft will play a key role in preparing our crew to return to A380 flying operations in the new year.
“Many of our crew have found other jobs during the pandemic doing everything from working in vaccination hubs and hospital wards to driving buses and tractors, and painting houses.
“Over the next few months, pilots will undergo an extensive retraining period including simulator sessions, training flights and classroom courses to prepare for take-off.”
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