Adieu! Air France to trim down its A380 fleet
The A380 lost its popularity at Air France. The French flag carrier is to get rid of around 20% to 50% of their “super jumbo” fleet.
While one could fear that the pragmatism of the new CEO Benjamin Smith could have meant the end of the A380 at Air France, several publications in the French media revealed that the company would part with two or five aircraft in the year to come, by not renewing their leasing contracts.
According to a recent audit of the company’s network, the plane is a misfit. The humongous 550-seat capacity that it offers requires a similarly huge demand, which only a few destinations attract.
While Air France strategy in the past was to merge two flights in one to fill their A380s, it does not align with current passengers’ expectations, who would rather see two daily flights being operated (usually one during the day and one at night).
Unexpected events could also have doomed its fate. Last year, about 20 Air France flights were canceled due to technical problems with the A380. The most serious saw the failure of one of the engines on a Paris-Los Angeles flight, resulting in an emergency landing in Greenland.
But among airlines, this move is definitely not a first. Already in June 2018, Singapore Airlines, the launch customer of the model, returned two superjumbos to the lessor, German investment company Dr. Peters Group. As the plane failed to find interest among other airlines, the company decided to scrap the two planes to sell them for parts. Malaysia Airlines has been considering getting rid of all their A380s for a time too.
Emirates now seems to be the only airline truly enthusiastic about the giant: already the biggest operator of the plane, it recently saved the whole program for at least ten years by ordering 36 additional A380s.