Hi Fly chief executive Paulo Mirpuri sees the Portuguese ACMI operator playing an increasing role as a "platform" for management of Airbus A380s as they enter the secondary market over the coming decade.
"There will be a lot of A380s coming back into the market in the next 10 years," Mirpuri said at the UK Aviation Club in London on 12 June. "We believe that Hi Fly is a good platform to manage those assets for their owners and create value for their owners and for our clients."
Hi Fly became the first operator of a second-hand A380 when it took delivery of an ex-Singapore Airlines aircraft owned by Doric in mid-2018. Since then, Hi Fly has found a variety of customers for ad-hoc charters of the widebody, including Norwegian, Thomas Cook and Air Senegal.
Mirpuri says the Portuguese wet-lease provider will "definitely" take more of the widebodies as their original operators or owners begin phasing them out.
He describes the A380 as being "ahead of its time" and believes that the market for the jet will develop over the coming 10 to 15 years as air passenger volumes and demand outstrip airport capacity.
Hi Fly, he notes, operates with a model of having "zero debt" on its balance sheet, which makes the case for managing A380s owned by other operators.
The airline's strategy will involve introducing the jet to the "significant" number of airports that have not "seen the A380 before", says Mirpuri, noting that gateways that have limited slot availability but from which there is untapped demand for travel at peak times would typically make good candidates for the jet.
Hi Fly will seek to avoid deploying the type at airports where A380s are already operated, he adds.
Mirpuri says the introduction of the A380 to airports that are new to the type has not come without its "challenges", with "accessibility" proving to be a particular problem. But he says customer feedback on the jet has been good, and that passengers "love it".
In order to compete on price with other aircraft types, an operator would typically need to equip an A380 with close to 650 seats, he argues.