Hi Fly A380: Still Doing A Whole Lot Of Nothing

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Hi Fly is the first charter airline to have an A380, which is pretty awesome, since they’re operating flights on behalf of other airlines. Hi Fly took over this A380 from Singapore Airlines, which chose not to renew their 10 year lease on the plane.

Hi Fly acquired their first A380 last year. At first Hi Fly had a fair number of charters set up, including with Norwegian and Air Austral. Unfortunately the operations didn’t go so smoothly, with Hi Fly having huge issues operating Norwegian’s flights to New York, and then the plane even sustained some engine damage while operating a flight on behalf of Air Austral.

While the plane was busy last summer, it has had very few “jobs” since then. In February I wrote about how Hi Fly’s CEO indicated that the company had secured a single customer to operate the A380 for the entire 2019 summer season. He said he’d leave it up to the airline to reveal themselves.

In airline terms, the summer season typically goes from late March until late October. Well, we’re now in the peak of the summer season and over four months after that announcement was made. What’s going on with Hi Fly’s A380? Not a lot… still.

So far in 2019, the Hi Fly A380 has operated the following flights (I’m excluding repositioning flights to/from Beja, where the A380 is stored when it’s not flying):

  • April 14: Paris to Dakar
  • April 15: Dakar to Paris
  • April 15: Paris to Dakar
  • April 16: Dakar to Paris
  • April 26: Paris to Dzaoudzi
  • April 27: Saint-Denis to Paris
  • May 28: London Stansted to Baku
  • May 31: London Stansted to New York
  • June 2: New York JFK to London Stansted

So if flight tracking software is correct, the Hi Fly A380 has operated fewer than 10 charter flights in all of 2019.

And late last year wasn’t much better. Between September and December of 2018, Hi Fly’s A380 operated just two flights.

So in over nine months, the airline has operated under a dozen charter flights.

Bottom line

I realize Hi Fly got this A380 for a good price, but it’s still not a cheap plane to hold onto. Between maintenance and insurance and pilots and everything else, I can’t imagine they’re making money on this plane.

It also seems like Hi Fly’s summer A380 customer may not have materialized as they had hoped.

All along the thought of operating a charter A380 seemed odd. I would have loved for the concept to work, but so far it seems like they haven’t had much luck. I’ll be curious to see if they do secure any long term customer, or what exactly is going on…

Are you surprised by how little business Hi Fly’s A380 has gotten?

  1. So none of the operators who used the plane last summer want to use it again this year. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Hi Fly is it!?

    Is still wonder how and why Hi Fly thought they could make money on these 2nd hand planes when no other airline in the world wanted to take them!

  2. I would be surprised if this didn’t end up being used for Hajj flights as its pretty much perfect for this single event where many airlines need a lot of capacity and charter in other planes…

  3. Naa, the plane has flew more than that.

    On the other hand, Air Belgium’s A340s have been flying on a daily basis for other airlines. It’s been doing bussiness for BA for many months now. Also did some flights for LOT. I can assume that it’s still very costly to lease the A380.

  4. @vlcnc: The Haji is very limited time period, this year in mid August (last year in late August). Therefore I think HiFly has not yet had the opportunity to operate the plane during Haji.

    @Lucky: I thought they operated a the London to New York route for Norwegian, while they couldn’t use their 787 because of the engine issues? May be I’m confusing something …

  5. The A380 burns roughly 2000 gallons of fuel per hour into our atmosphere. By that measure, it’s better for the rest of us that the airplane doesn’t fly especially considering the egregious carbon footprint of only flying a few high-end charter customers.

    It would be great if you start to cover environmental issues related to flying in some of appraisals. Thanks Lucky.

  6. @Chris it doesn’t fly ‘just a few charter customers’. This isn’t a business/corporate jet. Every time this aircraft flies somewhere (apart from repositioning flights) it hasn’t hundreds of people on board, so Nolan is correct about its efficiency per seat.

  7. Isn’t HI Fly working with big European Travel Agencies ? Usually in Europe holiday package deals are with Charter flights.

  8. @ chris:
    why dont you ask al gore Leonardo DiCaprio or any of the other global warming/ climate change/ what ever they call it this week jokers about carbon footprint as they fly around the world in private jets. A single airplane flying 300+ people has a very tiny carbon footprint.

  9. @Lucky did you see the Ethiopian A350 operating for Travel Service on a Prague-Crete charter ? Very cool!

    There has been a crunch in the market with the 737 MAX grounding – airlines like TUI have even been using aircraft like Wamos 747 on short runs. But seems like the A380 is just too much of a headache or too expensive to sub in – Norwegian stuck to A330/A340/B777 for their wetleases this year

  10. @Chris

    You with Greenpeace?? Probably why you get your facts wrong.

    @Nolan has already correct the facts.
    Now how do you know these charters are for high-end charter customers????

    Using wrong facts and sick logic of Greenpeace.
    You know what pollutes the earth, humans.
    You plotting for human extinction attack yet?
    Your kind need to up your radical environmentalism game. Stop attacking ships and start shooting down A380s. MH17 wasn’t the Russians but Greenpeace right?

    I’m tired of environmentalist who gets their facts wrong and brainwash other people.
    Global warming is real, we should all do our part to slow it down. FALSE FACTS doesn’t help the cause at all but makes people who don’t care get sick of it and trash it even more (think Trump).

  11. Should you also factor in that for some destinations that a company/airline/etc. would want to charter a plane like an A380 for the airport can not support it? It can’t land at just any old place it wants.

    Let’s say I have a group of 400 from the New York area that I want to fly to Kauai for a special event. I could charter this A380 but then would have to land in Honolulu. From there I’d have to charter a large number of additional flights from HNL to LIH.

    While it seems like it could work as a charter plane, it has such a limited market. Otherwise you’d see the A380 still in production and flying with many other airlines.

  12. Who actually fly’s the 380 for hi fly ?? I’m presuming they don’t have fully trained and paid crews sat around waiting for the call and I’m also thinking there isn’t a huge amount of trained pilots available casually for the big bird ?

  13. @Jamie
    I’ve always wondered the same thing… They have full time pilots and crew on payroll just to fly 9 times a year?! It makes no sense on so many levels!

  14. Airbus will be sweating after this lackluster lease record. If one plane doesn’t perform well in the secondary market then what happens when the rest of the planes are returned to Airbus??? They’d better invest in some desert parking space…

  15. I’m on vacation in Nice, and we were enjoying watching the planes come in across the beach this evening. I was surprised to see that one of the large planes coming in was an A380, but it turns out it was this one, diverting from CDG-TNR to NCE. Hope it’s not an issue with the plane!

  16. It’s coming to Boston from Rome tomorrow, standing in for a broken Norwegian 788. That’s quite the bump in capacity.

  17. She is at Gatwick today, slew in yesterday afternoon from Bejau nder an NR code. So might be doing some Norweigan cover for a couple of weeks like last year 🙂

  18. I actually checked the prices they charge for a europe to USA return with a A340 They came with a price more then 500.000 euro. This is way to much

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