The pandemic has caused the acceleration of Airbus A380 retirements. Air France, Etihad Airways, Lufthansa, and Thai Airways have retired (or plan to retire) their A380 fleets, while Qatar Airways seems highly likely to retire its A380 fleet. There’s now another airline officially retiring the A380.
Malaysia Airlines’ A380 fleet is history
As reported by Executive Traveller, Malaysia Airlines’ CEO has confirmed that the airline plans to retire its Airbus A380 fleet:
We are cognizant of the challenges to sell this aeroplane, but we are still looking at ways and means to dispose of our 380 fleet. At the moment, the management is convinced that the 380 doesn’t fit the future plan.
For context, Malaysia Airlines has just six Airbus A380s, which the airline took delivery of in 2012 and 2013.
Malaysia Airlines is retiring its Airbus A380s
Malaysia Airlines’ A380s feature a total of 494 seats, including:
- Eight first class seats on the lower deck in a 1-2-1 configuration, which are nowadays branded as “Business Suites”
- 66 business class seats on the upper deck in a 2-2-2 configuration, which are fully flat
- 420 economy seats on both the lower deck and upper deck; on the lower deck they’re in a 3-4-3 configuration, while on the upper deck they’re in a 2-4-2 configuration
Malaysia Airlines’ A380 first class
Malaysia Airlines’ A380 business class
This is the least surprising A380 retirement
The reality is that you can’t even really blame Malaysia Airlines’ A380 retirement on the pandemic. Like so many other airlines, Malaysia Airlines has historically been a poorly run, government owned airline.
The airline received enough funding to stay in business, but not not enough freedom to become a viable business. Prestige has been prioritized over profitability, and this A380 order is a reflection of that.
Malaysia Airlines was trying to sell its A380 fleet going as far back as 2015. In 2016 the airline came up with a plan to create a sister business whereby the airline would wet lease A380s to other carriers on a short term basis. The idea of using these planes for Hajj and Umrah flying was also considered.
Then in 2017 Malaysia Airlines’ management changed its mind again, and the new plan was to add A380s to destinations that needed more capacity. Since then, these planes have been severely underutilized.
Malaysia Airlines will finally be retiring its fleet of six Airbus A380s. The airline was considering getting rid of its A380s going as far back as 2015, and the airline hasn’t been flying these planes much, even pre-pandemic. It looks like at this point the airline will dump the planes no matter what, even if Malaysia Airlines can’t get any money for them.
Anyone surprised to see Malaysia Airlines finally retire A380s?