Hi Fly Has An A380 Customer For Summer 2019

Hi Fly is the first charter airline to have an A380, which is pretty darn 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, and so far the plane has operated flights on behalf of Norwegian, Air Austral, and more. Unfortunately the operations so far haven’t gone 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 over the summer, the plane has only operated two commercial flights since last September. Specifically, it operated one roundtrip flight on behalf of Norwegian from London Gatwick to New York. That’s it.

I know they got a pretty good deal on the plane, but having it sit idle for five months isn’t making it any money.

Hi Fly has secured an A380 customer for 2019

There’s an update on that front, per Forbes. Hi Fly’s CEO has announced that they have secured a single customer that will operate the A380 for the entire 2019 summer season. In airline terms, summer typically runs from late March to late October, so I suspect we’ll see the plane flying with that airline for almost that amount of time.

However, he’s not revealing anything about the airline (not even any clues about the region), and is leaving it to the airline to reveal this deal.

He also confirms that the airplane has been undergoing maintenance work prior to the peak season, so that it will be able to operate almost continuously in summer. This included a two month project related to a mandatory airworthiness directive issued by Airbus relating to the A380’s structure.

As he has said:

“Now it’s done, and the aircraft is contracted for the summer period to fly intensively, and then until the end [of the year] it’s available for ad hoc charters and ad hoc ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance) contracts.

It’s one customer for the whole summer.”

That means it’s time to speculate

So that leaves us to speculate what airline could be leasing Hi Fly’s A380. Last year I speculated about what airlines might be interested, though I think the landscape looks very different this year.

Last year people threw around airlines like Air Austral, KLM, Norwegian, Swiss, TAP Air Portugal, Turkish, Virgin Atlantic, and more. I think almost none of those are likely this year:

  • Norwegian is in cost cutting mode and is getting smaller rather than expanding, so there’s no way they want this big of a plane
  • Turkish is moving to Istanbul’s new airport and is taking delivery of 787s and A350s, so I can’t imagine they want a one-off A380
  • TAP Air Portugal is taking delivery of A330-900neos and A321LRs, so don’t have much need for the plane at this point

So this time around I really don’t have a great guess. I would say that Air Austral is a likely contender, given the engine issues they’ve been having, and since they’ve been a past customer of Hi Fly.

I also wouldn’t completely rule out Virgin Atlantic due to their 787 issues, though I still think it’s unlikely.

But I’m also not sure what other airlines that leaves.

Anyone care to speculate as to what airline will be chartering the Hi Fly A380 for the entire summer?

Comments

  1. Part of me would love if this was Air Canada, given the fact that one of their 77Ws is out of commission (possibly permanently so) at HKG and they could use the extra lift for the summer. Doesn’t seem like a very AC move though.

  2. VS have the 4 ex Air Berlin planes to cover their 787 issues.

    Plus start of delivery of A350’s happens in the summer so I think they have enough slack and if necessary they can put back the retirements of some of the 747s and A340 if necessary

    Also they’ve not had an A380 before so don’t have any A380 trained crew.

  3. Air Canada to cover off C-FITW which has been AOG in HKG since December with multiple reports of a delayed repair. AC has no slack in their fleet to cover their summer sked.

  4. @HockeyCoachBen – Its called US Global Airways now. You really need to keep up with the latest fraud airline news….

  5. Can’t be TAP at all, Lisbon Airport is not capable of handling an A380. Maybe Aer Lingus or Iberia? IAG has been looking at more A380s, maybe they wnat to see how it would work outside BA?

  6. Aeroméxico, to consolidate their daily MEX-LAX flights and free up their 787 that they use during peak season. HA!

  7. Corsair for their new Miami destination? They dont have their 747 anymore. However I am not sure if Orly can handle the 380

  8. No kidding but maybe Surinam Airways could be next for their PMB – AMS route. Demand is huge and they have only one A340 which is undergoing maintenance all the time. They have leased aircraft before from hifly. I can even take this a step as I can see TUI Netherlands involved as well. There is a codeshare agreement already between the two but especially during summer all the flights are completely full.

  9. Vegas to any major US city with heavy load factor
    Scoot (subsidary of SIA)can use SQ plane anytime
    Just like Mandarin Airlunes with China Airlines
    SouthWest is a possiblity

  10. Norwegian for their LGW-JFK route. They can fill the plane in summer.
    Lufthansa! LH this week has announced a bunch of wet leases this summer to avoid the drama & high costs of cancellations they had last summer. They’ve announced leases from Air Baltic, Sun express and Swiss will be operating all their flights from Geneva-Munich and four of 8 daily flights FRA-GVA. They’re totally leasing the A380 from HiFly!!

  11. @jamesp At first thought I would assume you’re right, considering they’d like to increase load cappabilities in the summer and they’re retiring their 747s. But el al aircraft are equipped with advanced anti-missile technology. I would assume el al wouldn’t acquire an an aircraft without the tech, let alone a foreign aircraft.

  12. I used it when Norwegian had it last summer. The problem is that neither the first nor the business class seats work well without the mattress and bedding that Singapore used to provide. Flip the business class bed over and you get a rock hard surface. I persuaded the lovely Portuguese crew to fold down the bed in the first suite and it was almost as bad. Without the flat surface, you just get a pretty mediocre recliner. I can’t see a premium carrier taking it. Without the bedding, I’d much prefer Norwegian’s usual premium seats

  13. Actually, I would agree with a couple of previous comments. I wouldn’t rule out Norwegian. They are shrinking their fixed costs, but they still make money in the Summer season. It would make sense to reduce their fleet in the Winter, and to lease a few more planes just for the Summer, when they’re actually profitable. It reduces their exposure to seasonal variations.

  14. @Charlie
    I don’t think that that would be a reason why they wouldn’t use it. Israeli airlines such as Elal, Arkia and Israir have been using wet-leased aircraft for years although they are not equipped with such systems. That includes aircraft from airlines such as Small World, Travel Service (I think both are defunct now) and Hi Fly. For example, I think last summer Elal have been using a wet-leased Hi Fly aircraft for some of its Toronto and Spain flights. I think it was also used in a flight to Miami at least once.

  15. My speculation will be Garuda Indonesia. As we know, the air travel market there is growing rapidly and they might wish to test out the A380? For Haj charter?

  16. It’s not fresh news I guess but in case it was missed, hi-fly a380 operates between Paris and Dakar for air Senegal.

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