A380 ownership marks major step for UK start-up airline

Global Airlines, a UK-based startup, has announced the acquisition of its first aircraft, an Airbus A380, previously operated by China Southern, based on a report from Simply Flying. The aircraft, with Manufacturer Serial Number (MSN) 120, has been re-registered in Malta as 9H-GLOBL.

The A380, which last flew in December 2022, is currently being maintained and refurbished in the Mojave Desert. The aircraft is expected to leave the desert in the next few weeks, with its next destination yet to be announced.

The aircraft was delivered to China Southern in 2013 and was put in storage in late 2022 when China Southern retired its Airbus A380 fleet. It is equipped with 506 seats, including eight first-class suites, 70 business class seats, and 428 economy class seats.

Global Airlines has fully acquired the aircraft from Jet Midwest. The return to service work for the aircraft is being completed by Business Class Aviation and Hi Fly. All tests, including a near-full-thrust engine run, have been successful, and the aircraft is reported to be in excellent condition.

James Asquith, CEO and Founder of Global Airlines, expressed his excitement about giving MSN 120 a second lease of life. He also thanked Jet Midwest for their assistance over the past year.

Asquith remarked:

Lots of people predicted we wouldn’t make it even this far, and I couldn’t be happier to be giving MSN 120 a second lease of life… Purchasing an aircraft takes a phenomenal amount of time, and over the past year, we, with support from partners, have been putting the building blocks in place to take full ownership of the aircraft and plan its first flight.

In May 2023, the start-up announced that it secured an Airbus A380 (MSN 6), formerly operated by Singapore Airlines. Global Airlines published photos of said A380 in storage rebranded with the airline's decals.

MSN 6 stickered with the airline's livery. Photo by Global Airlines.

A month later, the long-haul airline claimed to have also secured another three A380s. However, there were no details released on the identity of these aircraft but stated that they were acquired "for an undisclosed figure."

International aviation news outlets appear skeptical of the unbacked acquisition.

Launch delayed

The startup has blamed partner delays and multiple supply chain issues for pushing back its launch to an unspecified date in the latter half of 2024. The carrier had planned to start flights in the first half of the year. Despite the challenges, the acquisition of the A380 marks a significant step for the startup.

Global Airlines said in a statement:

Our intention is to commence with charter flights later in 2024 with scheduled services from the UK following that.

The airline added: 

We expect to operate our first round of passenger services in the next 12 months. However, like many other aviation companies, we have encountered delays with our partners and multiple supply chain issues, which we continue to work around and find solutions to.