Qantas has added the tenth Airbus A380 to its fleet, with the new aircraft taking on the Sydney-Singapore-London service of QF31/QF32.
That's a particularly appropriate route, given that the A380 is named after Australian aviation pioneer Bert Hinkler – who made the first solo flight from Britain to Australia in 1928. That journey took just under 16 days in a single-engine aircraft, compared to 21 hours on his namesake superjumbo.
The arrival of the Bert Hinkler brings Qantas to the halfway mark in its A380 order, with the next ten to be delivered through to 2015. All of these will be fitted with an upgraded and improved version of the same model Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines which were the cause of the 'QF32 incident' in November 2010.
But Qantas says that the continued arrival of factory-fresh A380s won't mean an all-out retirement for its Boeing 747s.
"We have always planned to retain a 747-400 fleet, including the six 747-400ERs that have been delivered since 2002" a Qantas spokeswoman told Australian Business Traveller.
"A long term fleet plan needs to remain flexible and able to adapt to changing conditions and the type of shocks the industry has experienced – from 9/11 and the SARS crisis to the GFC."
Three 747-400s will have been put out to pasture by the time the next two A380s arrive this year, in addition to the four 747-400s which have already been decommissioned.
However, nine 747s will remain in the fleet – the three most recent 747-400s and all six 747-400ER – which will be reconfigured by the removal of first class into a standard three-class aircraft with business, premium economy and economy seats. This will include the A380-grade fully flat Skybeds in business class.