Air France over the weekend bid adieu to its young fleet of Airbus A380s. The aircraft only entered service for the carrier in 2009, and now are beyond the chopping block.
Saturday marked Air France’s final Airbus A380 flight, with a symbolic roundtrip flight of F-HPJH from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, exclusively reserved for Air France staffers who worked on the A380.
While Emirates has said it will resume flying A380s, the most expensive in the sky, on the 15th of July, the overall future for this breed of jet industry-wide looks bleak.
Not all A380s operate equal: Air France’s fleet of 10 A380s each had: nine seats in La Première First Class, 80 in Business Class, 38 in Premium Economy, and 389 in Cattle.
Now they appear destined for manchild living rooms, desert boneyards, or to be sold off and refitted into new aircraft.
Teal Group vice president, analysis Richard Aboulafia recently warned, the aviation industry should expect an “A380 bloodbath” as the COVID-19 crisis accelerates retirements.
As International Flight Network reports, “the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic… has led to many early-retirements, specifically of older, less efficient and simply too large aircraft types.”
“While the Airbus A380 is not particularly old for aviation standards (it’s not uncommon for long-haul airplanes to operate for 20-30 years before being retired), it does fit into the categories too large and less efficient, with the latter usually being blamed on its four engines.”
Air France is now the first airline to retire the aircraft amid the pandemic. Though publications like International Flight Network believe “it is not unlikely that some of the other 14 operators of the aircraft type will follow suit, as many have been considering reducing or completely discontinuing their A380 fleets.”
“Lufthansa has already confirmed that it will retire six out of 14 Airbus A380, along with some Boeing 747-400 – another aircraft type that has been hit hard by the economic impact of Coronavirus.”
Air France served 16 destinations with its A380s: New York JFK, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, Mexico City, Shanghai, Abidjan, Hong Kong, Miami, Tokyo, Montreal, Singapore, Atlanta, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi, with JFK being the top destination.
The last commercial flight of an Air France A380 was flight AF995, between Johannesburg and Paris CDG, on the 23rd of March. All up, Air France operated nearly 40 000 flights with its A380s, and was flown by almost 18 million passengers.
At least there are no bitter feelings though: as Saturday’s farewell flight took to the skies, “passengers bid adieu to the venerable aircraft, and expressed positive sentiment about Emirates’ decision to ensure that the big bird flies again,” Runway Girl Network reports.