A few weeks ago, we wrote about the First Class products onboard Airbus A380 in different airlines. In that article, we briefly mentioned the Portuguese wet lease airline Hi Fly. This airline operates an A380 plane, which previously belonged to Singapore Airline, and has kept the old interior. We have taken a closer look at this unique aircraft.
In 2018, Hi Fly purchased its first Airbus A380, formerly part of the Singapore Airlines’ aircraft fleet. The airline chose to maintain the old interior with 12 First Class suites, 60 Business Class seats and 399 Economy Class seats. This plane has been used in numerous wet lease contracts. For instance, Norwegian used Hi Fly during their problems with its own Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Hi Fly flew on Norwegian’s routes between New York JFK to London Gatwick, Stockholm and Oslo Gardermoen. To our knowledge, the suites were not used when the airline flew for Norwegian.
According to Flightradar 24, the aircraft has not been in the air since February 22 this year, when it flew from Paris to Beja (BYJ) in Portugal. This was formerly a military airport whereby the aircraft is based, as it is the only Portuguese airport that can receive the giant A380. Before that flight, the plane had made two trips from Paris via Hanoi to Wuhan in China.
Being a wet lease airline means that Hi Fly provides airlines with its own flight crew. A swap to a wet lease airline often means that travellers can expect a worse product than they originally paid for. But in special circumstances, such as volcanic ash clouds creating disruptions or in crises like now, it is usually most important to arrive safely and swiftly to your final destination. At these times, you may be more inclined to accept a less favourable inflight experience or slightly narrower legroom. However, if you travel in Hi Flys A380, such a situation can benefit the passenger, especially if you are one of the lucky to get an upgrade.
Norwegian Premium Class Boeing 787 Dreamliner
The jump from Norwegian Premium Economy to Singapore Airlines Business Class seats is definitely to the passengers’ advantage.
Hi Flys First Class offers the highest level of comfort. These 12 suites offer passengers more privacy than what is usually expected in Business Class. There are doors which can be closed. The two seats in the centre of the aircraft is an excellent choice for couples, as the divider between the suites can be to convert the beds into a spacious double bed.
The Economy Class section of the flight is situated in the rear part of the upper deck, filling most of the main deck. First Class is located primarily on the main deck and Business Class seats are located on the upper deck.
The Airbus A380 is a plane which has recently become less popular in the market, due to its high operating costs and the limited number of destinations that can handle such a large aircraft. Whether Hi Fly aims to take over more retired A380 is not publicly known. At this very moment, the future of the aviation industry is unclear. Recent reports from airlines, such as Austrian Airlines and Lufthansa, suggests that there is a trend to reduce fleets to increase operational efficiency. With this in mind, this could result in an opportunity from airlines such as Hi Fly to invest in more A380s- or the opposite, which is the scrapheap.