British Airways – A380 In Short-Haul Training Flights!

By Spyros Georgilidakis | October 15, 2021

British Airways is about to ramp up A380 flights, so it’s scheduling it in several short-haul flights, to bring its pilots up to speed.

The A380 never quite managed to get the aura of the Queen of the Skies, the 747. But the aircraft is still massively popular with passengers. However, even the most optimistic A380 fans don’t expect to see the gentle giant in short-haul routes! Alas, many airlines are retiring their A380 fleets – but not British Airways.

Photo: British Airways

Like most of the type’s operators, British Airways sent its A380 fleet in storage at various airports, during the pandemic. BA is one of those airlines that has a big enough international long-haul hub, to make the A380 work. As we have seen, this aircraft really needs the “Hub and Spoke” airline model, to work properly. British Airways is flying internationally in Europe from multiple airports. But for true long-haul, they’re using Heathrow, and that’s where their A380s live.


Flying The Double-Decker To European Cities

But when planes go out of work, so do their pilots. Some of BA’s pilots could have moved to fly other Airbus types, depending on their type ratings and the needs of the airline. But either way, British Airways needs to ensure that it has the necessary crews to deploy its A380 fleet internationally. And it’s must faster to train crews in shorter flights!

British Airways – A380 In Short-Haul Training Flights!
A BA A380 in storage in Madrid, during the pandemic. Photo: Miguel Angel Sanz

So the airline has opened some interesting November flights for booking, on its website. British Airways will fly an A380 from Heathrow (EGLL) to Frankfurt (EDDF) in Germany, and to Madrid (LEMD) in Spain. Flights will be running daily (with different hours on Saturdays), from the 8th of November. The airline is currently planning to continue them until the 2nd of December. Note however that scheduling for ANY date(s) could change, to a smaller type.

These flights should provide a good opportunity for crews to fly several sectors each, getting back up to speed. This is a common issue with long-haul pilots. While they fly for many hours, they get fewer opportunities to perform take-offs and landings, than short-haul pilots. So in times when there is a need for training, getting a lot of pilots back up to speed can be a problem.

British Airways – A380 In Short-Haul Training Flights!
Photo: Adrian Pingstone


British Airways Giving A380 Pilots Stick Time

British Airways is putting its A380 pilots on flights that would normally be operated using A320s. It seems that each crew will fly four sectors daily, i.e. one return flight to Frankfurt and Madrid. The Frankfurt flights will last a bit under two hours, those to Madrid being another half hour longer. In reality, the times will probably be a bit shorter than that.

So, the plane on the left will do the job of the one on the right! Photo: British Airways

Of course, this will be an opportunity for British Airways passengers to see the A380. But the onboard service will be somewhat different than long-haul. BA isn’t opening the upper deck to passengers. This mostly has premium seating. But BA’s short-haul passengers don’t get First Class as an option anyway. The airline has business class (Euro Traveller) in the lower deck.

Big widebodies are rare in short and medium-haul flights because they’re basically too heavy. The initial climb to cruise altitude requires a lot of fuel. So to make up for that, big planes then need to fly a good distance. But training needs can create such flights, as in this case. Before these A380 flights, British Airways also used several 787s for flights within Europe, in part for the same reasons.


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