It’s another sad milestone for the Airbus A380, which hardly comes as a surprise, though…
Air France Retires First A380
Yesterday morning Air France quietly retired their very first Airbus A380, as they flew the plane from Paris to Malta, just shortly after it landed from Johannesburg. This plane had the registration code F-HPJB.
This makes Air France only the second airline in the world to retire the A380, after Singapore Airlines. So far a Singapore Airlines A380 has been scrapped, while another was taken over by Portuguese leasing company Hi-Fly (though seemingly not with much success).
The first Air France A380 to be retired was leased from Dr. Peters Group (the same company that leased Singapore Airlines their A380s), so the plane will now be stripped of the Air France livery, and then we’ll see what happens to it after that.
Air France’s A380 Retirement Plans
Unfortunately A380 production is ending in 2021, as over time we’ve learned that Emirates is the only airline delighted with the plane (and they claim other airlines just don’t use the plane correctly).
Over the summer Air France made the decision to retire all of their Airbus A380s by 2022. The airline has 10 of these planes in their fleet. This will make Air France the first airline in the world to retire their entire fleet of A380s.
Previously the airline had planned on phasing out some of their A380s in the next few years, but also keeping some after a refresh. They ultimately decided against this plan.
Why Did Air France Decide To Retire A380s?
What ultimately caused Air France to retire their A380s? Air France management explained that the current competitive environment limits the markets where A380s can be profitably flown, especially when you have smaller and more fuel efficient planes.
Beyond that, though:
- Air France’s A380s have woefully outdated hard products, and refreshing the interiors of the A380s would cost somewhere around 45 million EUR per frame
- Air France’s A380s have horrible dispatch reliability, meaning that flights with the A380s are often significantly delayed, or even canceled
Air France will be retiring all 10 of their A380s in the next three years, with the first one having already been retired. It’s a sad development for what was once thought to be the future of aviation. At the same time, given how Air France configured these planes, I can’t say it’s much of a loss.