Aviation experts are speculating that Qantas is rethinking its plans for international flights after one of its long-haul superjumbos took off from storage in the Californian desert for the maintenance depot in Germany.
The Australian flag-carrier had previously said that it would mothball its A380s until 2023.
But other airlines are now pressing ahead with starting up international travel much sooner.
Singapore Airlines has just flown an A380 from storage in the desert near Alice Springs back to base, according to Dr Volodymyr Bilotkach of the Singapore Institute of Technology, and the author of "The Economics of Airlines".
"Singapore Airlines requires 90 per cent of its pilots to fly once a month," he said.
"They don't want to be caught off-guard."
Qantas said its pilots "go through regular training updates" without specifying how many flying hours that involved.
One sign that Qantas may be planning to resume earlier than it previously planned was that earlier this week, it said that cabin crew, pilots, and airport workers would have to be fully vaccinated by November 15, and that every other employee must get both jabs by the end of March, 2022.
But other countries are moving faster on international travel.
Singapore has just agreed to allow fully vaccinated passengers in from Germany without quarantine. They must provide proof of vaccination and take four Covid tests, one before boarding, one on arrival and two more within a week of landing.
Dr Bilotkach, who is recognised as the global expert on the business of airlines, said other airlines were also planning for a resumption of international travel.
The end-game for governments, he said, was "vaccinate as many people as possible and then start operating".
Australia, though, had been slow, in his opinion. "Maybe from next year, the country will be in a position to open."
Qantas will announce its financial results for the past year on Thursday next week, and its chief executive Alan Joyce will then lay out how he sees the future. Until then, the airline said, there will be no comment.
Dr Bilotkach reckoned that Qantas is now thinking about resuming international travel next year.
It is likely that demand would not be high initially - but prices would be. Business travel may resume more quickly but it may be that the huge A380s only came into operation as mass demand resumed.
The International Air Transport Association which represents the world's airlines reckons that passenger numbers this year will be up 62 per cent on last year, but still about a quarter lower than they were in pre-pandemic 2019.
IATA doesn't expect a full recovery until 2023. It's not known how the highly infectious Delta variant of the virus will affect plans.
The flight of the Qantas A380 to Dresden may or may not signify much - but it has got the experts thinking hard. Keith Tonkin, managing director of Aviation Projects, said it was "a curious development".