An iconic jet has touched down in Sydney after spending almost 600 days in a desert on the other side of the world.
The Qantas A380, one of the biggest passenger craft in the world, made its long-awaited return to Australia on Tuesday.
VH-OQB, named Hudson Fysh after Qantas’ founder, was the first A380 to return.
It landed at Sydney Airport just after 3pm.
It had spent almost two years with other planes in storage in a desert in California before it was flown to Dresden, Germany for maintenance and then back to Australia on flight QF6023.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said it was a “really special day” and that it had been emotional to see the airline’s flagship aircraft return to Sydney.
“Because of the amazing vaccination rates … we have the confidence to put these aircraft back in the air earlier than we had planned,” he said.
“Only six months ago we were planning these aircraft would be in the desert until 2023.”
Mr Joyce said pilot Paul Grant had worked as a house painter and a courier during the pandemic before returning to Qantas and bringing the first A380 home.
“One of the other first officers actually was fixing trams and trains for Sydney rail,” Mr Joyce said.
“We’ve actually had people doing an amazing amount of different professions to get through it.
“But our love is flying these aircraft.”
Mr Joyce said pilots would have to train in simulators and in the classroom to be allowed back in the air.
The A380s are expected to begin flying to Los Angeles daily from March and then to London via Singapore from July.
The planes can carry almost 500 passengers across two levels.