Preloved Superjumbo Bumped to Discount Sector After Stint in Med

(Bloomberg) -- A second-hand Airbus SE superjumbo will fly for Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA later this month, giving a model once seen as the epitome of luxury a first taste of discount travel.

The A380 has been drafted in to operate between London Gatwick airport and New York’s John F. Kennedy hub after the grounding of some of Norwegian’s own Boeing Co. 787s, according to a spokesman for the airline.

The trans-Atlantic stint comes after the Scandinavian arm of Thomas Cook Group Plc this week used the double-decker to transport holidaymakers between Copenhagen and Cyprus and Oslo and Majorca to help cope with its own plane shortage. The jet was released by Singapore Airlines Ltd. after a decade of service and is the first used A380 to find a new role.

Norwegian plans to operate the world’s biggest passenger plane for several weeks as its sidelined 787 Dreamliners undergo maintenance to resolve glitches with Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc engines.

“We are pleased to be able to offer this solution to our customers to ensure that their journeys remain unaffected,” the spokesman said. Norwegian is a pioneer in low-cost, long-haul flying after tapping the 787’s fuel efficiency to undercut rivals, though it has piled up debts and become a takeover target for British Airways owner IAG SA.

The 471-seat A380, registration 9H-MIP, is being offered for lease by charter specialist Hi Fly of Portugal, which has the plane under contract for six years.

Thomas Cook briefed startled passengers on the giant plane before they boarded its flights, with some allocated seats in the first- and business-class cabins, though minus the gourmet meals that once accompanied the premium berths. As the first scheduled superjumbo to visit Larnaca the plane also created a stir on landing, with people jostling to snap “selfies.”

Hi Fly Chief Executive Officer Paulo Mirpuri said in July that his company is lining up a client to use the plane on a longer-term basis.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.