Just one year after many retirements were reversed in favour of retrofits, the value is soaring, not least thanks to a young British entrepreneur using the mighty jet to lavishly fly passengers across the Atlantic

Between 2019 and 2021, seven A380s were scrapped barely halfway through their 20-year life cycle. Experts questioned whether A380 airframes had any value at all.

Upon the news that two Singapore Airlines jumbos first flown in the late 2000s were being carved up for spare parts, one news outlet joked

“If you’re a lover of the biggest plane in the world, we have to warn you that this post contains graphic images.”

The sentiment isn’t entirely unserious: there’s something about big aircraft that most passengers love.

However, if the airlines are struggling to fill them, they quickly become a liability.

One revival after another

Last year, the A380 was hailed the ‘Comeback Kid’ by the aviation world – a revival that has involve d many major airlines retrofitting their interiors and dialing up their services.

This year, the revival can be seen in the increase in the value of the aircraft – a calculation no longer purely based on the rewards of harvesting all its spare parts, as one operator is buying the A380s second-hand with a view to flying them across the Atlantic.

As of 8 March 2024, the cumulative value of the worldwide A380 fleet was $11.35 billion – up 2.8 percent from $11.04 billion in 2023.

It's a remarkable shift in fortune that even the most sceptical investor would find impressive.

Airframe values shooting up

In contrast to 2019, when the only interest was in the engine and the scrap value of the airframe, there are now operators actively buying A380s to use commercially.

The value of the airframes of three in-service Airbus model variants, the A380-861, A380-841 and A380-842, have accordingly all risen, according to AviationValues data

The three A380 variants have respective valuations of $5.72, 3.02, and 2.61 million, compared to $5.50, 2.92 and 2.57 million in 2023 – increases of between 1.6 and 4.0 percent.

It's a far cry from a report in 2020 that forecast the airframe value would steadily decline over the decade.

Manufacturer among the buyers

The increase is all the more impressive given there has never been any freighter conversion program in light of the size of the A380, thus further limiting its appeal to potential second-hand buyers. 

But as long as the A380 continues to fly, there will be a high demand for spare parts, not least from the manufacturer. 

Just last year, Airbus was linked with a deal to pay $327 million to re-acquire six A380s back from Star Alliance – a carrier that owns 14 of the aircraft in total.

In total, there have been 17 purchases of second-hand A380s since the beginning of 2020: seven in 2020, one in 2021, four each in 2022 and 2023, and one so far this year: a Global Airlines purchase from China Southern Airlines. 

Around $30 million an aircraft

UK-based startup airline Global Airlines has so far acquired four A380s with a view to launching services from the UK to the US later this year – subject to regulatory approval – in partnership with Portuguese wet lease specialist airline Hi Fly.

Most of the prices paid by Global Airlines have been undisclosed, but in the case of a December 2022 sale, both the estimated value ($27.48 million) and purchase price ($32.0 million) were divulged.

Another purchase, this time in May 2023 by Global Airlines from Doric Asset Finance, raised $28.5 million, according to Aviation Values.

Photo credit: Roger Green

Offering a new kind of luxury travel

Founded in 2021, Global Airlines is the brainchild of James Asquith, a 34-year-old British entrepreneur compared to Richard Branson, and many are tipping him and his airline to fail with a business plan squarely based on reconfiguring A380s to offer a new kind of luxury travel.

Certainly, Global Airlines might find further purchases harder to come by, although Qantas is reported to be interested in selling 10 of its 12 A380s.

Many major airlines – including British Airways, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways – are reversing plans to retire their jets and signalling their intent to fly them into the 2030s.

Emirates still the dominant A380 airline

Will Global Airlines one day be as inextricably linked to the A380 as Emirates, which owns 123 of the 254 aircraft ever made? Time will tell.

Emirates owns the models with the highest valuation: $76.93 million, according to an AviationValues estimate in 2023.

The five jets were delivered by Airbus in December 2021, a month after it ceased production, and according to Emirates President Tim Clark, most of the more recent purchases will still be flying in the 2040s.


Who saw this coming? Not only is the A380 defying expectations and flying in heavy numbers again, but one operator is buying the super jumbos second-hand to reconfigure the behemoths as the epitome of luxury travel. It’s a far cry from the pessimism that greeted Airbus’s decision to cease manufacturing the A380s, just 12 years after they first took to the skies.