Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

British Airways is now the 2nd biggest global operator of the A380

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

When anyone mentions the A380, you think of Emirates.

This isn’t surprising, of course. Emirates is by far the bigger user of the aircraft and built its entire business model around the double decker, ferrying passengers around the world in bulk via its Dubai hub.

Intriguingly, however, British Airways has quietly crept up the rankings to become the 2nd biggest operator of the A380 despite having just 12 of them.

British Airways A380

Cirium published some interesting operational details on the A380 this week which I thought were worth sharing.

As you would expect, given the number of airlines that retired their A380 fleets during the pandemic, A380 flights in total have dropped sharply. There are scheduled to be 5,271 A380 flights this month, compared with 9,764 in November 2019.

The numbers are heading up, as airlines bring their A380 fleets back into action. Flights are up 125% in November 2022 vs November 2021. The low point was June 2020 when, amazingly, only 43 A380 flights took place globally.

Who are the biggest A380 operators?

Only nine airlines have operated any A380 services this year.

Emirates, of course, rules the roost with 70% of all A380 flights.

Emirates A380

British Airways comes in 2nd, with 450 A380 services due this month.

Behind BA come arguably more high profile A380 operators – Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways and Qantas.

If you want to fly an A380, your options are continually shrinking. This month only 45 airports will see an A380 depart, compared with 62 in November 2019.

Outside of the hubs of the biggest operators (Heathrow, Singapore, Doha, Dubai) the airport with the most A380 services is Bangkok. This is despite Thai Airways parking up its own fleet of six A380 aircraft.

The busiest A380 route in the world is London Heathrow to Dubai, with both Emirates and – on some flights – British Airways using the aircraft.

This article from Simple Flying is worth a look if you want to find out more about what it takes to get a grounded A380 back in the sky. Qantas claims that it requires 4,500 hours of work.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (March 2023)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

SPECIAL OFFER: Successfully apply for either of the Barclaycard Avios credit cards by 2nd April 2023 and you will be entered into a free draw to win ONE MILLION AVIOS! Full details are on the application forms here (free) and here (paid). This competition is exclusive to Head for Points readers. T&C apply.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

Until 30th March 2023, the sign up bonus on American Express Business Platinum is increased to 120,000 Membership Rewards points – click here. The bonus on American Express Business Gold is increased to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – click here. T&C apply, see the application forms for details.

American Express Business Platinum

Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 30th March) and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

60,000 points sign-up bonus (to 30th March) and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (65)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Miles.OnPoint says:

    My first A380 experience was on one of BA’s first when they ran crew familiarisation flights from LHR-FRA.

    Booked with Avios on one of the few flights they were using the upper deck. Thoroughly enjoyed Club Europe afternoon tea and a short snooze in my flat bed before we arrived in Frankfurt, all for £25 and a few miles.

    My favourite A380 has to be QR though (flew BKK-DOH in J), their onboard lounge blows everyone else out of the water, the most impressive thing in commercial aviation in my opinion, fabulous (even managed a cheeky glass of Krug from the nice FA).

  • SteveW says:

    A very sad sight at KL last week as all their A380s sat around the airport looking very downtrodden. Some had the logos painted out and almost all had the engine cowlings open with blanked or missing engines. They won’t be coming back soon and probably never with MH.

  • Peter says:

    Would be nice if BA got more of them second hand, it’s the perfect aircraft for slot restricted airports like LHR

    • Rob says:

      I heard $50m quoted as the cost of an internal refit ….

      • Nick says:

        It’s been looked at again recently. I think they would really like to do it, but as Rob says the refit cost is prohibitive. There are also a few airports that are de-certifying for it so there’s a niggling worry they’ll become obsolete even faster. Huge shame really, they’re popular and very useful as heathrow moves back to being congested.

      • Richie says:

        The B779s deliveries will be delayed and thus BA won’t have to pay for them as originally forecast, a massive short term headache leaving more consideration for the A380 fleet.

      • Chris says:

        Qatar showed the way to cheaply refurb a plane with the Cathay 777s. Replace the carpets, fabrics and as much of the branding as you can but otherwise leave it as is. Doing it gave Qatar their best first and business seats (im 1.9m tall.)

        The QR A380s could work pretty well for BA. The seats are similar to club suite in business. First is average enough for BA. Could replace the bar with small P-ECO section

        • Spaghetti Town says:

          But unfortunately the wrong engines, qatar are engine alliance while BA’s are rollers.

  • david says:

    Best and worst time on an A380 – having a shower just before landing with a heated bathroom floor and worst – flying to Sydney on Christmas Day and emirates one and only A380 breaking down and being replaced with a 777 and 200 passengers being bumped off the flight ( I was in 1st so still flew).

    • Mike Hunt says:

      “I was in 1st so still flew” – yes I would expect those passengers in business and economy were much less important than you !

  • namster says:

    BA’s CW currently on A380 is poor compared to newer cabin on A777 and A350 with direct aisle access, modern cabin and mcu. Not really a good hard product now having flown both A350 and A777 there is a vast improvement which I don’t think BA will invest in retro fitting to A380

  • ADS says:

    It looks like BA and SQ both have 12 operating A380s

    BA often have one A380 in heavy maintenance – but currently all 12 are fully fit, so BA’s numbers are probably slightly higher than normal

    I wonder if the average flight length is slightly shorter for BA, so even with a similar number of flying hours, BA will have more separate flights than SQ ?


    • Richie says:

      The aircaft is on the ground at JNB during the day for 12 hours, so that’s poor utilisation. The short flights to DXB and ORD balance this out.

  • Richard Gordon says:

    Our departure to DFW was delayed 2.5h last week due to an A380 going tech. The earlier ORD flight took our plane and we had to wait for another one. Further stories I am reading about the fleet here (if accurate):

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.