Qantas to resume A380 to LA

City A.M. Reporter
QANTAS Airways hopes to resume Airbus A380 flights between Australia and Los Angeles from mid-January, as Rolls-Royce finalises its investigation into the cause of a mid-flight engine explosion on one of the aircraft last year.

Qantas said yesterday it hoped to resume normal A380 operations from 17 January, but would still need the go-ahead from Australia’s aviation regulator before flying the superjumbo aircraft on the lucrative route.

Qantas has been in talks with Rolls-Royce since one of the A380 engines disintegrated mid-flight in November, forcing the airline to initially ground its fleet of the aircraft. It has since resumed A380 flights to London but was not flying the aircraft on the longer Los Angeles route.

The Australian airline said it expected to have eight A380 aircraft in the air by early February, up from five. It is scheduled to take delivery of a new A380 aircraft in mid-January and another new aircraft by early February. A third A380 grounded in Sydney is also due to be operating by mid-January.

Aviation sources said Rolls-Royce had found the cause of the explosion, which was related to problems inside a pipe that feeds oil to the engine’s turbine bearing area. Once identified it would be easy for the engine-maker to identify which engines would be at risk from the fault, one source said.

Analysts estimate damages to Qantas could reach $60m (£38.5m), although forecasts vary. The LA route is one of Qantas’ most profitable but its latest operating statistics show there has not been a major impact on passenger numbers from the incident.