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Air France Retires First Airbus A380

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Air France Retires First Airbus A380

Air France Retires First Airbus A380
November 25
14:49 2019

MIAMI — Air France has officially begun the retirement of its Airbus A380 fleet. The French carrier phased out its first double-decker plane yesterday, with the remaining nine planes expected to follow suit by 2022.

The aircraft in question, bearing the registration F-HPJB (MSN 040), was the second A380 to be delivered to Air France in 2009. The plane was flown to Malta on November 23 following its last commercial service flight from Johannesburg earlier that day.

It is expected that the aircraft will be painted in an all-white livery before it is returned to the lessor.

Photo: Anna Zvereva 

In November 2018, Air France announced the reduction of the number of Airbus A380s in its fleet. The carrier was planning to return five of the 10 double-deckers to its lessors by the end of 2019, following an audit led by the airline’s CEO, Benjamin Smith.

Back in November, Airways published a story in which Air France was looking to reduce the number of Airbus A380s in its fleet by returning at least five of the 10 double-deckers to its lessors by the end of 2019, following an audit led by the airline’s new CEO, Benjamin Smith.

The results of the audit revealed that the plane had become too expensive to run, especially when compared to the Boeing 777-300(ER)s that the airline deploys on similar missions.

Today, five of the seven remaining planes are owned by Air France, with the other two currently on lease.

In November 2018, Air France announced the reduction of the number of Airbus A380s in its fleet. The carrier was planning to return five of the 10 double-deckers to its lessors by the end of 2019, following an audit led by the airline’s CEO, Benjamin Smith.

The results of the audit revealed that the plane had become too expensive to run, especially when compared to the Boeing 777-300(ER)s that the airline deploys on similar missions.

The A380s in the French carrier’s fleet currently operate from Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) to Abidjan, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, Mexico, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Shanghai, Atlanta, and Washington.

“These decisions support the Air France-KLM Group’s fleet competitiveness strategy,” said Benjamin Smith, CEO of the Air France-KLM Group. 

“They follow the recent orders for A350s and Boeing 787s that Air France and KLM have placed. We are very pleased to work with Airbus to add the A220-300 to our fleet, an aircraft that demonstrates optimum environmental, operational, and economic efficiency,” he added.

Photo: Clément Alloing

“This is a very important next step in Air France’s transformation, and this evolution in Air France’s fleet underlines the Group’s determination to attain European airline leadership”, the CEO concluded.

Air France also added that it is looking at “suitable replacements” for the A380. It had been rumored that the airline was going to place a major order during this year’s Paris Air Show.

However, once the show ended, the carrier opted to send all its Boeing 787 Dreamliner orders to KLM, whereas Air France will keep all Airbus A350s.

Air France claims that the current competitive environment limits the markets in which the A380 can profitably operate. “With four engines, the A380 consumes 20-25% more fuel per seat than new generation long-haul aircraft and therefore emits more CO2,” says the airline.

“Increasing aircraft maintenance costs, as well as necessary cabin refurbishments to meet customer expectations reduce the economic attractiveness of Air France’s A380s even further. Keeping this aircraft in the fleet would involve significant costs, while the aircraft program was suspended by Airbus earlier in 2019.”

The comments were made as part of a wider plan and announcement by the airline, who with its partners KLM, have laid out a long term fleet regeneration program with the latest widebody aircraft the A350 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

While the future of the A380 remains in doubt for many airlines around the world, questions about the possibility of a second-hand market for the aircraft are still to be answered.

The world’s first second-hand A380 operator, Hi Fly.

With many Airports such as Los Angles, London-Heathrow and New York-JFK all operating at maximum capacity, it will leave some people to wonder how the airlines will continue to offer enough seats with smaller widebody aircraft operating these primary routes.

One thing is clear however and that is that this retirement of the A380 will likely start a global trend of such movements bringing an end to the era of all the double-decker aircraft.

First A380 Scrapped In France


The first Airbus A380 to be decommissioned has been successfully scrapped as of Wednesday. After being announced over a year ago, the deconstruction process has taken roughly 11 months, having begun earlier this year.

The news comes several months after Airbus announced that production of the A380, which has been underway since 2007, would be terminated in 2021. The aircraft was flown by Singapore Airlines for 10 years.

In order to deconstruct the A380, TARMAC has been utilizing an eco-responsible process of cold cutting, watering, drainage, and selective sorting. The procedure can recover 90% of the aircraft’s materials, sending the spare parts collected to the secondary market.

It is likely that all of. Air France’s outgoing A380s will follow the same fate as this ex-Singapore Airlines plane.

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Tomos Howells

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