Hi Fly Is Flying An A380 To Wuhan

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Hi Fly is the first charter airline in the world to have an A380, which is pretty awesome, since they’re operating flights on behalf of other airlines. Well, at least it’s awesome from the perspective of an aviation geek, but perhaps less awesome for the carrier’s bank account.

I’d wager a guess that they’ll also be the only charter airline in the world to have A380s, based on the business (or lack thereof) that they’ve had so far.

Hi Fly acquired this A380 after Singapore Airlines chose not to renew the lease on their first A380 after 10 years.

I’ve written in the past about just how little flying this A380 has been doing. For example, in the first half of 2019, the Hi Fly A380 operated fewer than 10 flights for airlines.

In the last three months, the Hi Fly A380 has operated a single roundtrip flight with passengers, which was from Madrid to Jeddah on January 7, and from Jeddah to Madrid on January 13.

Well, Hi Fly has found a one-off A380 customer, as the plane will be flying to Wuhan in order to help about 350 Europeans evacuate. The routing here is interesting, as the A380 is first flying to Paris today, where it will pick up a medical team.

Then tomorrow morning it will fly from Paris to Hanoi to Wuhan to Paris, getting back to Europe on Saturday morning. The plane will just have brief connections in Hanoi and Wuhan.

Presumably the Hanoi stop is so that they can have a crew change, since they can’t have one crew operate the roundtrip. Positioning crew to Wuhan would be challenging, given that the city is closed off.

Hi Fly isn’t the only charter airline to operate Wuhan rescue flights. For example, a Kalitta Air 747 just operated a flight from Wuhan to the US with about 200 Americans onboard. The plane stopped in Anchorage to refuel and so that passengers could be screened for symptoms.

Then the plane flew to March Air Reserve Base near Los Angeles, where passengers will be observed for three days before being released.

(Tip of the hat to @BoardingPassRO)

Given the latest information on the coronavirus situation, my thinking changed, and I ultimately canceled my flight through Beijing. For more on the rapidly-developing situation, check out these posts:

  1. I wonder if there are first/business classes on this chartered flight, and how the food/service might be

  2. That Kalitta charter never got above 27,000 feet. Looks like it was actually a 744F – guessing they put seats on pallets and the hold wasn’t necessarily able to be fully pressurized for pax?

  3. Although Hi Fly’s A380 hasn’t had a lot of business, based on a recent interview I read about Hi Fly’s CEO, the company seems to be doing very well. I have a feeling the purchase of the A380 was a clever move to generate a lot of publicity (like now) and demonstrate how capable and flexible Hi Fly is. They may not have a lot of business for the A380, but it seems to have been a wise investment.

  4. Observed for three days before being released?

    In a disease with an incubation period of 2 weeks? And contagious long before that? WTF????

    Should be held for minimum of 2 weeks, and extended if some of the passengers becomes ill.

  5. @No Name, yeah the Australian government plan to hold “evacuees” arriving from Wuhan on Christmas Island for 2 weeks before coming back to the mainland. Seems sensible to me but of course people are complaining.

  6. The two week monitoring period here in SoCal is voluntary as long as everyone agrees to it. If someone tries to leave the people in charge of the situation will Essentially compel them to stay.

  7. “An A380 evacuation flight took off Thursday morning from a former Portuguese military airport at Beja, southeast of Lisbon, carrying just its pilots and crew.

    Captain Antonios Efthymiou said the flight was going first to Paris, to pick up a team of doctors and extra crew, before heading to Hanoi and then China. He told Portuguese media it would bring back about 350 Europeans. He said the crew would take special medical precautions but did not elaborate.”

    From ABC

  8. “French government evacuating EU citizens I believe.” Hahaha It doesn’t include uk citizens so I guess brexit already in effect!

    Uk evac has yet to happen

  9. I love OMAAT and its commenters! I had seen a photo of the US rescue flight and only saw the “Air” part of the logo, immediately thought it was Kalitta Air (I’ve seen them at EWR a lot) but was confused because I thought they were only a cargo carrier. Lucky’s post confirmed the first part and Tirmenat’s comment suggested the second part. I found this confirmation:


  10. How on earth is an A380 profitable when it does 1 flight per 3 months? I still don’t get how it was a smart investment when not one other airline on earth wants 2nd hand A380s.
    So the pilots get paid a regular salary and do 1 flight every 3 months? It makes no sense.

  11. @niko_jas
    HiFly got a special deal with Airbus + the leasing company so they have likely very low acquisition and maintenance costs, way below the usual costs for that aircraft.

  12. @niko_jas Hi-fly has various other airplanes. As long as all the other ones are working a lot (thanks to the promotion the A380 gave them) it might be worth it. Not sure if it is happening or not, just explaining why the CEO mention why it was worth it.

  13. Did Hi Fly actually purchase the 380, or are they just the next lessee? Because if they are a lessee, they may have a lease that only requires payments for actual use. For the lessor, it’s still better than parked with no income.

    OTOH, with nobody wanting these albatrosses, purchase may be cheap….

  14. @Miguel Sousa


    A better question would be how does the HiFly A380 pilots stay current with so few flights?

    Short training flights?

  15. BBC news earlier today indicated the RAF had charted a 3rd party aircraft that would stop over at a European airport before flying on to Wuhan to evacuate 150 UK citizens and 50 from “ other nationalities “. The cabin crew were to be made up of RAF and Public Health England staff with the flight returning to RAF Brize Norton. I think it’s pretty likely this is the aircraft and mission.

  16. Perhaps they forgot to load the Champagne flutes ? It looks nice enough, however , like everything time will tell If they are able to maintain the standard. Good luck

  17. @anon , British citizens still have the benefits of EU citizenship until the end of the year. I imagine both EU and uk working together on this, as Irish citizens on both flights and British citizens on the french flight.

  18. Flew on a HIFLY flight recently from Toronto to Puerto Plata on an A330 that Air Transat has wet leased for the winter. Seating was okay. Portuguese flight attendants were all trilingual. English French and Portuguese. Service was excellent. Food was normal Air Transat fare. First time I have ever flown in a white tail. Assume they are flying to Hanoi so they can clean the plane and board catering if it hasn’t already been boarded in Paris. Nothing can be done in Wuhan except fueling I assume. Probably the new crew taking over in Hanoi has already gone ahead to rest for the return journey.

  19. The UK Government flight is currently on its way back to Brize Norton, large Air Force base just outside Oxford in the UK. Being operated by a Wamos 744.

    Interestingly the Wamos 744 also flew in from Hanoi as well.

  20. It’s astonishing the fuss being made. I caught Coronavirus on a flight out of HKG. For an average healthy person, it’s just a mild flu. Sure any flu is more dangerous for the elderly and infirm. But you’ve gotta wonder if mainstream media is sponsored by big pharma these days. Also the mortality stats are inevitably exaggerated simply because the vast number of cases in the healthy will go unreported, unremarked. The case incidence stats count those who need medical intervention only. Throw in everybody else not bothering to report, and you just have similar stats to any generic flu virus. Probably 😉

  21. I just think of the evacuation flight that Brad Pitt was on in in World War Z. That flight went wrong in all possible ways….

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