Air France retires its A380 super jumbo fleet.

May 21, 2020
Photo: Eric Salard, Wikimedia Commons

Air France has retired its A380 superjumbo fleet according to FlightGlobal.

The airline had planned to ground the fleet from 2022 but the COVID-19 disaster has brought forward those plans.

Air France-KLM said: ”Initially scheduled by the end of 2022, the phase-out of Airbus A380 fleet fits in the Air France-KLM group fleet simplification strategy of making the fleet more competitive, by continuing its transformation with more modern, high-performance aircraft with a significantly reduced environmental footprint.”

According to FlightGlobal Air France-KLM says the impact of the A380 phase-out write-down is estimated at €500 million and will be booked in the second quarter of 2020.

In November last year, Air France CEO Anne Rigail told AirlineRatings that “the A350 and 787 made the A380 obsolete.”

Air France A380
Air France CEO Anne Rigail. Photo: Andreas Spaeth.

“Operationally it (A380) has always been a very difficult aircraft, you need specific ramp equipment, you need to rebuild runways and taxiways, you need special boarding ramps.

“I say this because I was working at our CDG hub when the A380 arrived – operationally it has always been problematic. Because you even need special training for everyone on the ramp, I have never seen this before.

“In comparison, it’s so easy to train people to handle an A350. But when the A380 came to Air France in 2009, it replaced two aircraft types, so on the cost side, it wasn’t too bad.

“Since the efficiency of the A350 and the 787 is the same, but with less capacity and more flexibility, you can put them on any route. So, of course, the A380 is no longer useful. And we have all kinds of problems with it – related to the structure, the engines. And not only now when the aircraft gets older – it has always been difficult with the A380.”

But Rigail noted last year that “customers love this aircraft and they still do. It’s quiet, it’s big, it’s beautiful. I like to see A380s in the morning when they take off. But now we feel it’s a constraint, but it’s a bit sad that Airbus now stops production.