21 July, 2018

HiFly's colourful entry into A380 operations

This is perhaps a bright new era for the double-decker Airbus A380 jet aircraft as the first 'second hand' example starts its operational life with a new operator.
Hi Fly's first A380 formerly flew with Singapore Airlines  Photo Hi Fly

Hi fly, is the European wide-body wet lease specialists, flying an all-Airbus fleet and are now the new operators of an Airbus A380 that previously flew with Singapore Airlines for 10 years.  It is the first of the type to enter 'second hand' service and makes the start of a new era for Airbus and the A380 programme. 

The whole Airbus A380 programme is relatively young, the first of the type entered into in October 2007, so when MSN006 finished its lease with Singapore Airlines, the leasing company looked toward Airbus for support in finding a new operator.  “From the beginning, we knew it would be good for us to help build a market for second-hand aircraft,” said Catherine Bras, Airbus’ A380 business development platform leader. “We think this is a great opportunity to show what the aircraft can do. There may be some airlines that were hesitant to commit long-term who can now try out an A380 and see what it can do for them. This could help create new routes and expand the market base.”

After discussions with the lessor and potential customers, a deal came together with the highly regarded Hi fly, a true specialist in aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance (ACMI)  or ‘wet lease’ operations.   Hi fly lease out aircraft to airlines when that airline's aircraft are grounded for any number of reasons, such as maintenance checks, late deliveries of new craft, technical hiccups and so on. Hi fly literally fly in and take up the role that the airline's normal aircraft would have done. The leasing airline has none of the worries over crewing it, insuring it or maintaining it as this is all done by Hi Fly.  

Hi fly President and CEO Paulo Mirpuri said: "We welcome the arrival of the Airbus A380 in our fleet and we are extremely happy with the market reaction so far on this new availability in our wet lease product offering.” He also praised the aircraft’s comfort and environmental performance.

One of the most striking things about Hi fly's A380, other than its sheer size, is the wonderful colour scheme the airline has painted on the big double decked bird.  Rather than leave it white, with just a few name decals, Hi fly has shown support for the Mirpuri Foundation campaign “Save the Coral Reefs” by painting the A380 with a special-themed livery, promoting the conservation message to the world.  The aircraft unusually has different colours prominent on each side,  one is in dark blue displaying destroyed corals that contrasts with a light blue side representing a pristine ocean with colourful and healthy marine life.

“A big cause requires a big answer and now, the biggest commercial aircraft on the planet will be the one carrying this big message around the globe”,  Paulo Mirpuri said. 

With this initiative, Hi fly is raising awareness for this unprecedented campaign to fight the destruction of coral reefs. If no action is taken, these beautiful ecosystems will disappear by 2050. With 50% of the world’s corals already gone, action needs to be taken immediately and awareness is the first step. 

Hi fly has plenty of support as Airbus is right behind this new area of A380 operations, Valerie Manning, the head of Customer Support at Airbus said: “Hi Fly is a very capable all-Airbus operator, and we provided them with the necessary support to facilitate a smooth entry into service of their first A380. This package comprises, among other things, onsite field service and a flight hour services for components offer.”

"The Airbus portfolio includes full turnkey solutions and a range of ร  la carte offerings, according to Manning, with the company able to develop customised packages for second-hand A380 operators as it does for other Airbus aircraft, given our experience in the active second-hand market.” 

First Class Photo Zach Honig The Points Guy
Hi Fly have kept the seats and configuration of its former operator Singapore Airlines, so the craft currently features 471 seats in a three-class layout that is both spacious and attractive. On the main deck, there are the 12 first class seats, which really are mini-suites, two in the middle and one either side of the twin aisles, the ones in the middle can even be converted into a double bed - the others just convert into a fully lie-flat bed! Completing the rest of the main deck are seats for 311 passengers in a standard economy cabin in a 3-4-3 layout.

The double bed effect Photo Zach Honig The Points Guy

The upper deck is split between 60 Business class in a 1-2-1 layout and 88 Economy seats in a 2-4-2 configuration. The business class seats are wide and comfortable and can also be converted to a flatbed for those long overnight flights. You can see a full tour of Hi Fly's A380 at The Points Guy

As you would expect from a former Singapore Airlines aircraft, all seats have an in-flight entertainment system to keep you entertained, which has been retained by Hi Fly for its operations. Although, if a customer wanted, Hi Fly says the aircraft could carry 853 passengers in a high-density configuration and all powered by four of the most reliable engines in the world, the Rolls Royce Trent 900.
Economy on the main deck  Photo Zach Honig The Points Guy

Which airlines will wet lease the A380 from Hi Fly remains to be seen, however, the company has recently operated flights for the likes of Air New Zealand, Thomas Cook, Nepal Airlines, XL Airways France, Arik Air, and Norwegian. 

Hi Fly joins a rather exclusive club operating the Airbus A380 - 

Hi Fly (1)
Air France (10), 
Asiana (6), 
British Airways (12), 
China Southern (5), 
Emirates (104), 
Etihad (10),
Korean Air (10), 
Lufthansa (14), 
Malaysia Airlines (6),
Qantas (12), 
Qatar Airways (10), 
Singapore Airlines (23), 
Thai Airways (6).
This list and the number of A380 each airline has in operation was valid at the start of July 2018.