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Etihad Sends An Airbus A380 To Long Term Storage

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United Arab Emirates carrier Etihad today sent an Airbus A380 to Tarbes, a French aircraft graveyard. It seems as though the six-year-old airframe will be stored, following Etihad’s previous commitments for the type.

Etihad, Airbus A380, Storage
Etihad has sent an Airbus A380 to Tarbes for storage. Photo: Etihad Airways

It hasn’t been an excellent week for the Airbus A380. Earlier this week, wet lease charter operator Hi Fly revealed that it would retire its Airbus A380, 9H-MIP, by the end of the year. Then, as a part of its Q3 results earlier today, German flag carrier Lufthansa revealed that is assumes it will retire the Airbus A380 before it returns to service. Last week Emirates also sent an Airbus A380 to Tarbes.

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Etihad’s first long A380 flight since March

Today, an Etihad Airways Airbus A380 completed its longest flight since the airline was forced o ground flights by the government in late March. Since this date, Etihad’s A380s have only been operating the occasional short maintenance flight to nowhere.

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The aircraft flown to Tarbes was A6-APA, the first aircraft to be delivered to Etihad. The aircraft departed from Abu Dhabi at 10:46, according to data from FlightRadar24.com. The aircraft completed the route, with a great circle distance of 5,362km, at 14:30, attracting a flight time of six hours and 44 minutes.

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Etihad, Airbus A380, Storage
Before its flight to France, Etihad’s A380 took to the skies for a three-hour test flight. Photo: FlightRadar24.com

Before this flight, the aircraft completed a short maintenance flight from Abu Dhabi to Abu Dhabi. This saw the aircraft in the air for two hours and 52 minutes, reaching 43,000 feet over Abu Dhabi.

The airline will have wanted to check that all was okay in a safe environment after the aircraft had been gathering dust since March. The airline would’ve taken precautions to protect the aircraft during its extended downtime. This would’ve included sealing all the tiny holes that a plane has.

Not the only Airbus A380 heading to Tarbes

Etihad’s Airbus A380 won’t be alone at Tarbes. Last week, Emirates sent an Airbus A380 to Tarbes for retirement. However, the aircraft sent by Emirates was over twice the age of that sent by Etihad. The retirement of Emirates’ 12-year-old plane had already been planned before the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Emirates, Airbus A380, Retirement
Emirates recently retired its first Airbus A380 to the same facility. Photo: Getty Images

In a podcast released last month, Etihad group CEO said that he expected A380 airlines to speed up retirements of the type.

At the time, he commented,

“We’re heartbroken to see our 380s parked up. The question as to whether they’ll ever fly again, to be equally direct about it, I’d say the jury’s out. I think it’s heavily handicapped by two engines too many, and other aircraft can do the job far more efficiently, far more sustainably.”

As such, whether this aircraft has been temporarily stored or won’t return to the skies remains anybody’s guess.

Do you think that Ethiad should cut the cord on the Airbus A380? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!

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