PARIS (Reuters) - An Airbus A380 jet returned by Singapore Airlines has found a home with Portuguese leasing firm HiFly, marking a respite for Europe’s slow-selling superjumbo after the first two second-hand aircraft looked set to be broken up for parts.
HiFly and the plane’s owner Doric Aviation formalised the deal in time for this month’s Farnborough Airshow, where Airbus and investors in the world’s largest airliner will be striving to demonstrate that it has a future, industry sources said.
Doric was not immediately available for comment.
Airbus and HiFly announced that the leasing firm had received an A380 but did not say where it had originated.
The deal comes weeks after German investment company Dr Peters said it would strip two A380s for parts after failing to find an airline willing to keep them flying.
It has said the same fate may await two more A380s, though industry sources say it is trying to negotiate a deal with an Asian airline to spare those jets from the scrapyard too.
Together with the plane remarketed by Doric Aviation, these represent the first five aircraft deployed by Singapore Airlines, which gave the double-decker its debut in 2007.
Singapore Airlines opted not to renew the 10-year lease on those aircraft, though it has also ordered some new planes.
Stimulating a second-hand market for the A380 is widely seen as vital to prop up ailing new sales of the aircraft, which seats 544 passengers and costs $445 million (£337 million) at list prices.
Many airlines are nervous about investing in such large jets because of the challenges of keeping them full all year round, especially at a time when rising oil prices are inflating costs.
The earliest A380s to enter service were overweight and beset with problems over wiring during assembly so it is especially difficult to adapt them for new buyers - a process which can cost $40 million for such a big jet, sources said.
HiFly is therefore expected to operate the aircraft without major cabin changes. The company specialises in renting out planes with crews, a practice known as “wet-leasing”.
Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle