Qantas’ Oldest A380 Returns to Commercial Service

Qantas’ first A380, VH-OQA, has returned to commercial service. This aircraft, 16.2 years old and the 14th A380 to be manufactured, carries the Manufacturer Serial Number (MSN) 014. Analysis of ch-aviation data indicates that the units MSN001 through MSN013 are either scrapped, preserved, or currently not in operation. Thus, VH-OQA is now the oldest A380 still in operation. It has taken over this status from its sistership, VH-OQB.

Overview of VH-OQA

By Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland - Qantas Airbus A380-842; VH-OQA@SYD;29.07.2012/664ee, CC BY-SA 2.0,
Photo By Aero Icarus via commons wikimedia

According to ch-aviation, this aircraft, named Nancy-Bird Walton in honor of the Australian aviation pioneer, was initially delivered to Qantas in September 2008. It is notably recognized for an uncontained engine failure incident shortly after departing Singapore in 2010.

Australia’s national airline, Qantas, was the third carrier to acquire the A380, following Singapore Airlines in September 2007 and Emirates in July 2008.

Qantas’s fleet has consisted of 12 A380s, each equipped with Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines and capable of a maximum take-off weight of approximately 570,000 kg (~1.26 million lbs). Typically, the aircraft configuration includes 485 seats, with 14 designated for first class. Two of these A380s have been decommissioned, leaving six of the ten remaining in active service.

qantas airplane in flight
Photo by Soly Moses | Pexels

As of June 2023, plans were announced for all remaining A380s to resume operations by the end of 2024. This is substantiated by ch-aviation data, indicating that two aircraft are currently undergoing maintenance in Abu Dhabi, presumably in preparation for their reintroduction to service. The active fleet includes VH-OQA, which has been stored since 2020.

The return story

In September 2022, VH-OQA traveled from Victorville to Los Angeles, remained there for two months, and then proceeded to fly from Los Angeles to London Heathrow and on to Abu Dhabi in November 2022 for a cabin upgrade.

The aircraft stayed at the airport in the UAE until April 2024. On April 4, it completed a 3-hour 33-minute test flight before departing for Australia the following day. QF6014 landed in Sydney at 13:40 local time on April 6.

VH-OQA resumed operations and arrived in Sydney at 13:40 on April 6. Later that evening, at 19:38, it departed for Los Angeles as QF11, departing over two hours behind schedule.

Via Flightradar24

As of April 10, its recent routes have included Sydney to Los Angeles, Melbourne to Los Angeles, and back to Sydney.

Qantas A380 routes

Cirium data indicates that Qantas currently operates four A380 routes, subject to modifications. The frequencies provided apply for the period from April to September.

  1. Sydney to Singapore to London Heathrow: operates daily and is the fifth-longest one-stop route globally.
  2. Sydney to Los Angeles: daily service.
  3. Melbourne to Los Angeles: service twice a week.
  4. Sydney to Johannesburg: service resuming on September 30; operates five times a week.

Featured image by Ryan Fletcher | iStock

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