After three years of operations European charter specialist Hi Fly intends to retire its A380 from service. The carrier chose to not renew the lease on 9H-MIP bringing a close to that era.
The decision to not extend the initial agreed lease period came as a consequence of the covid-19 pandemic, that drastically reduced the demand for very large aircraft. – Hi Fly statement
The carrier managed to keep the aircraft busy over the past three years, but rarely without a bit of drama along the way.
There was a long(ish)-term deal with Norwegian to substitute in for grounded 787s, for example. That offered passengers some unique up-side in terms of flight comfort but came with operational challenges that had the plane running hours late for days on end.
Venezuelan carrier Estelar Airlines also leased the craft for service from Caracas. Due to airport limitations it could only operate in daylight hours, with no local maintenance guaranteed and no contact gate available.
The aircraft came into its own during the early days of the COVID crisis as nations looked to move large numbers of passengers efficiently for repatriation efforts. The plane was very busy the first half of 2020 as a result.
And when the passengers were finally all home the carrier converted the interior to a cargo space,. Seats were replaced by netting to contain boxes of PPE and other material moving around the globe.
Even that, however, proves to be an insufficient business model for the company. And so, as with many other passenger airlines, the A380 will be replaced at HiFly by smaller aircraft. The company has a pair of brand new A330neo planes as well as a half dozen older models that it hopes will fill the market gaps going forward.
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