- British start-up carrier Global Airlines has announced that it has taken full ownership of the Airbus A380 aircraft.
- The company plans to launch transatlantic operations between the US and the UK “later this year”.
- Experts raised eyebrows at Global’s business model given the A380’s high operating costs.
British startup carrier Global Airlines he said On Friday, it said it had fully purchased an Airbus A380 previously owned by China Southern Airlines.
The 11-year-old aircraft, known as MSN 120, has been in storage in the Mojave Desert since December 2022, where it is completing necessary return-to-service work and is being re-registered in Malta under 9H-GLOBL. the company said without disclosing the price.
Buying the plane is an interesting move for Global, as airlines, especially startups, typically don’t go after used A380s.
“A lot of people predicted we wouldn’t make it this far, and I couldn’t be happier to be giving the MSN 120 a second lease on life,” said James Asquith, Global Founder and CEO, Simple Flying reported Monday.
“Acquiring an aircraft takes a phenomenal amount of time, and we have been putting the building blocks in place over the past year, with the support of partners, to take full ownership of the aircraft and plan for its first flight,” he said.
However, the MSN 120 is not the aircraft that Global said it was acquiring in May 2023. The plane, according to CNN, was registered as 9H-MIP and was originally owned by Singapore Airlines, not China Southern.
At the time, CNN reported the deal was “eight figures.” It is unclear what happened to 9H-MIP. Global did not immediately respond to questions about the two different A380s.
Following the purchase of the MSN 120, Global expects to purchase three more A380s and hopefully start commercial flights “later this year”. he said. That timeline had already been pushed back to late 2024 as of this writing, according to the Aviation Center.
As for routes, the airline plans to fly transatlantic flights between the United States and the United Kingdom, starting from London to New York and Los Angeles, according to CNN.
Portuguese charter airline HiFly will operate the planes on Global’s behalf with support from Airbus, while the startup will obtain its own aircraft operator’s certificate, Flight Global reports.
“The renaissance of the A380 is truly the focus of Global Airlines,” HiFly CCO Richard Stephenson said in a video released by Global in December. “We will be responsible for a large part of the secondary market for the A380 and the second coming of the A380.”
Experts questioned Global’s choice to operate the A380
Travel guru Asquith, known for being the youngest person to visit every country in the world, founded Global in 2021.
Despite his optimism, Asquith has come under fire for the airline’s proposed business plan – particularly as the A380 has not been the commercial success Airbus had hoped for.
The A380 is known for its incredible capacity, but its four fuel-guzzling engines are inefficient compared to twin-engine variants like the Boeing 787 or Airbus A350. Filling the giant plane on already crowded transatlantic routes will be a challenge, experts say.
Brad Beakley, CEO of consultancy Hospitio, told Travel Weekly in November 2023 that “the practicality of limited demand, even for something like this. [London] Gatwick-New York, not there.”
He further noted that the average price to operate an A380 is more than double what American Airlines pays to fly its Boeing 777-300 widebodies.
“I love the idea of something better, and I’ll give him a world of credit for generating enough interest and interest with news stories and investors,” Beakley said. “But the math doesn’t work for me.”
Asquith dismissed critics, emphasizing the idea of using the A380’s huge size more than seats: “You can’t justify things like social areas if you don’t have enough space on the plane,” he said. Global will offer luxury facilities such as an airplane lounge.
Simple Flying has announced that its Global company will upgrade its MSN 120, but will keep the China South seats. The Chinese carrier fits the cabin with 506 seats across three classes.
The planes will then see a “complete overhaul” of their interiors as part of the company’s second version design, according to Global.
Global plans to offer first, business and economy class with a focus on “reimagining the golden age of travel.”
“We need to make a different statement than what people have done before and failed,” Asquith told Travel Weekly. “If you race to the bottom, you’ll be squeezed out by incumbents who have bigger loyalty platforms, bigger networks and a decent product.”