Air France To Retire 4 Boeing 777-200ERs By May

Air France will phase out four 777-200ER aircraft in the next three months, with all leaving the fleet by May. These will be replaced by new Airbus A350 aircraft. The first to be retired left Paris this morning, ferried down to Tarbes on what is likely its final flight.

Air France Boeing 777-228(ER) F-GSPM (1)
Air France will remove four 777-200ER from its fleet. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Four in three months

Air France is looking to retire four of its Boeing 777-200ER widebodies in the latest fleet shake-up by the French flag carrier. The pandemic has already seen the rapid exit of its small fleet of Airbus A380s and the last few of its Airbus A340 quad jets.

The news was picked up by Aero Gazette, who shared a tweet confirming the plan.

The 777-200ER has been the backbone of the airline’s long-haul fleet since the first arrived in 1998. Between then and 2002, it took 25 of the type in total, flying them to destinations across Africa, the Americas, and into Asia.

While the aircraft were getting elderly, the oldest being in excess of 22 years of age, the rapid retirement announcement was somewhat unexpected. For some time it’s been known that Air France intends to replace the 777-200ER with the newer, more efficient Airbus A350. It seems that the airline has taken the opportunity of the traffic downturn to begin this renewal earlier than expected.

Air France A350
The A350 will pick up where the 777-200ERs left off. Photo: Air France

So far, Air France has taken delivery of six A350s. All are currently shown to be in service for the airline. This is in stark contrast to the 777-200ERs, of which 15 of the 25 have been parked for most of the last 12 months.

Air France says that the four 777s being retired by May will be replaced with five new A350s. The next to be delivered is anticipated to be F-HTYG, which could arrive anytime in the next few weeks.

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First retiree arrives in Tarbes

Air France has wasted no time in implementing its rapid retirement of the four 777-200ERs. The first, registration F-GSPV, was spotted departing Paris for the final time earlier today. GSPV is one of the younger 777s in the Air France fleet, aged 19.1 years. The aircraft has been stored at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport since the 21st March.

She set off at 09:07 local time this morning on what looks to be her last flight. In the air for just an hour, she touched down at Tarbes–Lourdes–Pyrenees Airport (LDE) at just after 10:00.

The airport is home to well-known European aircraft storage and dismantling company Tarmac Aerosave. It has facilities also in Toulouse and Teruel, Spain, but this is its home and headquarters.

Indeed, Tarbes-Lourdes was the location of the disassembly of the first Airbus A380 to be scrapped in 2008. In the past 14 years, the company has recycled more than 220 aircraft, and it says that 75% of all the Airbus A340s ever scrapped have been handled by its facilities.

An Air France Boeing 777-200ER parked at the gate at Los
The rest will likely not be far behind. Photo: Getty Images

The scrapping of the four 777-200ERs will leave Air France with 21 in its fleet, a number which will undoubtedly dwindle as the airline receives more new widebodies. While it will continue, for now, to fly its fleet of 777-300ER and 787 aircraft, it is fast becoming a very Airbus-heavy operation.

Are you sad to see the 777-200ERs leave? Let us know in the comments.