British Airways is deploying its last baby Airbus. Fans who want to fly an A318 today have only little choice.
Many airlines are parting with their largest aircraft, the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380, during the Corona crisis. British Airways is now doing the same with one of the smallest: the Airbus A318. The airline’s last jet of the type had been stored in Madrid for several weeks and will never return, as announced on Friday (July, 31).
The A318, the smallest member of the A320 family, bears the nickname Baby Airbus. However, it is now of legal age: it completed its maiden flight in January 2002, but is becoming increasingly rare worldwide. At the end of last year, fewer than 50 were still in service – and the numbers are going down.
Europe as a stronghold
Airbus has built only 80 A318s in total. Most Airbus A318 can be found in Europe. The largest customer was Air France with 18 of the aircraft. All of them belong to the Air France fleet today.
However, due to the Airbus A220 order from last summer, the A318s are also expected to be retired sooner rather than later. The second loyal customer is the Romanian company Tarom. Although it only bought four Airbus A318s, all of them are still flying today.
Titan Airways makes Airbus premiere with A318
In contrast, American launch customer Frontier Airlines has already phased out the last of its nine aircraft in 2013. Chilean Latam sold 15 Airbus A318. British Airways had two A318, but sold the first to the charter airline Titan Airways in 2017. Titan Airways is still using the aircraft today and with it ensured the first landing of an Airbus jet on the island of St. Helena.
According to the manufacturer, 63 Airbus A318s still belonged to the fleets of airlines, leasing companies or other operators at the end of June 2020, but had not yet been taken out of service. 19 of them are government or private planes. One, for example, belongs to the Turkish government.
The Turkish government flies A318
Even exclusive charter companies own Airbus A318s. The German K5 Aviation owns one, Global Jet Luxembourg two. In the Middle East and Asia A318s are also occasionally used for VIP transports.
It is difficult to say how many of the jets are really in use at the moment or are merely parked because of the ongoing corona crisis. But one thing is clear: A318s are also increasingly rare.
In the picture gallery above you can see current and former A318 operators.