Air France Retires Its First Airbus A380

An Air France Airbus A380 has made its way to Malta. The aircraft in question is set to apparently be repainted before Air France retires the behemoth from its fleet. The A380 is expected to go back to its lessor Dr. Peters Group.

Air France A380
An Air France A380 has flown into Malta pending retirement. Photo: Air France

Air France A380 flown to Malta

Aeronews, via Facebook, included images of an Airbus A380, registration F-HPJB, in Air France livery landing in Malta. This A380 is on lease to Air France from the Dr. Peters group. The aircraft in question will be returned to the lessor after a full repainting, according to the post.

F-HPJB, Airbus #A380 Air France, has arrived in #Malta today to be painted all white at Aviation Cosmetics Malta, then it will be returned to lessor (Dr. Peters Group). By 2022, AF will retire their 10 A380s.

Posted by Aeronews on Saturday, 23 November 2019

By 2022, Air France hopes to retire all of the A380s in its fleet. Based on the fact it’s being repainted, it appears that this A380 will not be scrapped just yet.

Air France has 10 Airbus A380s in its fleet. In the last few years, the airline has fallen out of love with the aircraft. In fact, a number of carriers are starting to retire these aircraft in favor of more fuel-efficient twinjets that are easier to fill due to smaller capacity.

Air France A380
In recent years, Air France has fallen out of love with the A380. Photo: Air France

The future for Air France

Looking ahead, Air France is striving towards fuel efficiency with an upgraded onboard product. Both of these features are lacking from the Airbus A380. Compared to newer aircraft like the 787 and A350, the A380 just does not offer the carrier the right operating economics.

Furthermore, given the gigantic capacity of the type, the A380 is more difficult to fill than a 787 or A350. As a result, Air France has moved away from the A380 in favor of A350s.

Air France A350
Air France prefers more modern aircraft, like the Airbus A350. Photo: Airbus

Passengers will likely find the A350 to offer a better onboard experience in different classes of service. This is because Air France has upgraded its business class, premium economy, and economy class seating and options on the A350.

Business Class
Business Class on the Airbus A350. Photo: Air France
Premium Economy
Premium Economy on the Airbus A350. Photo: Air France
Economy on the Airbus A350. Photo: Air France

Compared to the three above products, the A380 does not even come close to competitive.

Onboard the A380

However, unlike the A350, Air France’s A380s do have a first-class cabin called “La Premiere”.

Air France La Premiere A380
La Premiere first-class on an Air France A380. Photo: Andy Mitchell via Flickr

But the rest of the cabins are in need of a major overhaul. Whereas lie-flat seating is becoming the norm in business class, the A380 is equipped with angle-flat seats in this cabin. And, when it comes to economy seating, the A380 is in 3-4-3 configuration and has an outdated seatback entertainment system.

Economy Class air France
Economy class onboard an Air France A380. Photo: Andy Mitchell via Wikimedia Commons

Then, of course, to upgrade such a massive aircraft would cost Air France just shy of a fortune. In sum, it simply makes sense for Air France to retire these aircraft. Management has judged that the airline has no need for these super-jumbos and, unlike Emirates, the A380 does not make up a significant portion of the Air France fleet.

Are you sad to see Air France retire these aircraft? Have you flown an Air France A380? Let us know in the comments!