Air France To Retire Airbus A380s By 2024

Air France is rumored to be considering the retirement of their A380 fleet as soon as 2024, as reported by La Tribune. According to upper management, ‘One aircraft is down a week’ and they can’t wait to find a suitable replacement.

Air France A380
Airbus A380 in Air France livery. Photo: Wikimedia

What are the details?

Air France currently operates 10 Airbus A380s. Five of these aircraft will be retired by 2019-21. The other remaining five aircraft may be refurbished with renewed cabins starting in 2020.

The current A380’s have a somewhat tired fit-out, missing many of the modern passenger conveniences that other airlines boast. A380 operators like Emirates have amazing facilities, such as private suites, lie-flat seats in business and in-seat power.

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Air France
The Air France A380 cabin lacks some of the modern items you would find on other flag-carriers. Photo: Wikimedia

Air France originally took ownership of the A380 back in 2009 and the cabin has only seen marginal improvements since then.

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Why are they being retired?

There are a few reasons why Air France is set on retiring this series of aircraft.

The first is that they are not as profitable as smaller aircraft. A smaller aircraft is easy to fill up with passengers (and thus have a sold-out aircraft more frequently) and costs less to operate (weighs less and requires less fuel). Additionally, the A380 requires special airports (with long runways, taxiways, and extended gates) and is therefore limited in where it can operate.

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Secondly, the A380 has had some performance issues at Air France. According to La Tribune, Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith prefers smaller planes that generate higher yields. Moreover, he is overwhelmed by the multiple failures on these devices. “Every week, there is one that is down”. An aircraft that isn’t flying is just an expensive paperweight. 

AF A380
Air France plans to remove the A380 in the next six years. Photo: Air France

What is their plan to replace them?

Air France wants to replace the A380s with a smaller aircraft. So far, they are looking at the Boeing 787 or the Airbus A330-900neo. Whilst an easy choice might be the unproven Boeing 777X or the new A350-1000, the former is still suffering delays and the latter is too expensive for the airline.

Of the 10 Airbus A380 that Air France has on file:

  • Three are leased. The airline will choose to not renew these contacts in 2019-2020.
  • Five are owned by the airline. Three of these are rumored to be upgraded soon.
  • The last two are also leased, but their contracts don’t expire for a few more years and thus might be additionally updated with a new cabin.

Air France would prefer to update as few aircraft as possible. They would prefer to invest in building a new cabin concept for the A380 replacement when they get around to choosing an aircraft. We expect more news from the airline by October.

What do you think? Should Air France replace their A380 aircraft by 2025? What should they replace them with?

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Lee B Temte

Quote: Air France originally took ownership of the A380 back in 2001 and the cabin has only seen marginal improvements since then.

I don’t believe this year is correct. Singapore Airlines was the first, in 2007.

Tom Boon

Thanks for spotting this Lee, we’ve amended it accordingly.

Nigel

How come we don’t hear any of the other A380 operators complaining about “one down every week”?

Norm

Its because the Air France/KLM are a Bunch of Sour Puss’s, who Love to point fingers at their own Industries like AIRBUS, and their Souls Sold to BOEING morally. The A380, is the Best and Safest Aircraft manufactured todate, and people like the Emirates, who run their operation seriously and diligently have proven these facts. Does someone have the facts of the A380 statistics since they started operation, and it would be interesting to show their efficiency by Airline, and bet, Air France is in the Dumps.

Norman

Air France has a reputation amongst passengers, going back many decades, of running their aircraft into the ground, so the severely dated cabins and apparent lack of preventative maintenance come as no surprise. Remember the old catchphrase…”Take a chance, Fly Air France”? Doesn’t sound as if much has changed since that was common currency in the ’50s and ’60s.

Nigel

Thanks for that gem! “Take a chance, Fly Air France”. I love it 😉

Henrique Abreu

AF uses the A380 for what routes? Love the plane. Really gorgeous and comfortable. It’s a shame it proved out to be a not very successful project.

Ravioliollie Kaye

The only flight that we took on this magnificent a/c was in 2011. From JFK to De Gaulle was magnificent in the “cattle’ section. Spacious, lots of room and very quiet. This a/c was designed in a time frame that, if airports could support it’s huge airframe it would be a success. Times change, it is common place that toe engined a/c now fly much more efficiently, stuffing people such as me in economy class, but I’ll never forget that flight.

Chris

Air France is not refurbishing their A380s, they suspended they program earlier this year until a determination was made about how long they were going to be in the fleet. Since they are leaving in 2024, it seems unlikely that they will invest upwards of 30 million EUR per frame.

Does anyone on this site do research?

kilonzo

I also read this somewhere..that AF wont be upgrading any of their 380 with the new cabin

Jiyu

ANA 380s now arriving regularly in HNL. On two days of the week two ANA 380s arrive about two hours apart.

David cartwright

Looks like Hi Fly will pick up some cheap A380’s doesn’t it .

AQ

They should keep them and learn how to operate them correctly…
I heard that they complain about the cost of refurbish one aircraft…but look at what SIA is doing! Refurbish 14 A380s, at which one is completed (9V-SKS for those who are wondering0.

AQ

Oh and are they aware of the increase of air travel demands? I suppose the decision is followed after the French gov imposed the stupid “green tax” on each departure flights…

Hein

There is nothing stupid about a green tax, except comments like this one!