China Southern Sends Two A380s To Boneyard

Credit: Joe Pries

SINGAPORE—China Southern Airlines has sent its first pair of Airbus A380s to a U.S. boneyard, marking the beginning of the end for China’s only superjumbo fleet.

The aircraft—reg. B-6136 and B-6137—departed Guangzhou Feb. 24, bound for Victorville Airport, also known as Southern California Logistics Airport.

Days earlier, numerous reports, including from state newspaper Global Times, said China Southern is looking to retire all five of its A380s by the year’s end. 

B-6136 and B6137 were the first A380s to arrive in China Southern’s fleet. Aviation Week Network’s Fleet Discovery database shows they are both nearly 11 years old. The A380s are configured in a three-class layout with eight seats in first, 70 in business and 428 in economy.

Delivered in 2011, China Southern first flew the A380 on domestic trunk routes. It was not until October 2012 that the state-owned carrier commenced the first international route using the type. Flights began from Guangzhou to Los Angeles and a Sydney service followed. 

Global Times reported that China Southern incurred losses on A380 flying between 2011 to 2014 due to low utilization rates and high operational costs. A380 operations reached profitability in 2015 thanks to long-haul services. 

China Southern joins a growing list of airlines to retire the A380, including Air France and Lufthansa. Singapore Airlines has committed to continue flying at least 12 of its A380s with refurbished cabins, although the flag-carrier has recently hinted that its future fleet of Boeing 777Xs will eventually take over some A380 routes, offering an upgraded cabin product.

Chen Chuanren

Chen Chuanren is the Southeast Asia and China Editor for the Aviation Week Network’s (AWN) Air Transport World (ATW) and the Asia-Pacific Defense Correspondent for AWN, joining the team in 2017.