Airbus A380 Retrospective: Air France Retires its First Superjumbo

Air France's first-class cabin on the A380

By Anna Breuer on 25 November 2019
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Air France retired the first of its Airbus A380s over the weekend, following through on a plan announced in July of this year to retire its fleet of ten of the superjumbos. The aircraft, carrying the registration code F-HPJB, entered the fleet in 2009.

The Airbus A380 is a double-deck, wide-body, four-engine airliner that was introduced in 2007 in conjunction with launch customer Singapore Airlines. It is the world’s largest passenger airliner.

It can provide seating for 525 passengers in a typical three-class configuration or as many as 853 people in an all-coach configuration.

The French flag carrier was the first European airline to operate the type.  The first flight was on November 20, 2009, from Paris to New York City.  At that time, the airline’s CEO at the time, Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, said that the A380 would enable it to save money by operating fewer flights on long-haul routes to destinations that it served.

“To New York, we can remove one Boeing 777-200 and one Airbus A340 and go from five flights a day to four,” he said  “We will be able to use a plane that costs 20% less to run than the two others. In other words, we will save €15 million a year with an A380.”

Air France CEO Benjamin Smith had originally said that the airline would retire half of its A380 fleet, or five aircraft, back in 2018, but the cost of continuing to operate the superjumbo proved to be to high.

Under the current plan, the A380s will exit the fleet by 2022.  Originally only three were slated to retire by then.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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