Air France has joined the group of airlines that have retired Airbus A380 aircraft, with its first aircraft having now been removed from service. The sorry-looking all-white jumbo has been flown to Dresden where it will undergo maintenance.
It’s hard to believe that having entered service just 13 years ago, Airbus A380s are already being retired. However, that is, unfortunately, reality. Airlines are looking to replace four engines with two, as ETOPS regulations develop, and a growing emphasis is placed on efficiency. As a result, at least three airlines have already begun to retire their Airbus A380s.
Air France and the Airbus A380
The Airbus A380 entered into Air France’s fleet just over ten years ago in 2009. The airline ordered 10 of the aircraft with Engine Alliance engines. However, the airline had originally ordered 12 aircraft. In 2017, it swapped two Airbus A380s for an order of three Airbus A350s according to NBR.
With 10 Airbus A380s, Air France’s fleet holds both the median and mode averages when compared to the fleet sizes of other airlines. Of course, the mean average is skewed above 12 of the 14 fleets of Airbus A380s, as Emirates has a staggering 113 aircraft in its fleet as of the end of November.
Au Revoir F-HPJB
While not the first Airbus A380 to be delivered to Air France, F-HPJB is the first to leave the airline’s fleet. The colossal aircraft, leased from Dr. Peters Group, was delivered to the French flag carrier on 12th August 2010 according to Planespotters.
What will happen to the aircraft now?
The colors of Air France have already been removed from the side of F-HPJB. The aircraft was repainted in a plain white livery in Malta toward the end of November. Now, according to Aeronews on Facebook, the aircraft is undergoing maintenance at Dresden Airport in Germany.
The aircraft is being taken care of by the same company that is retrofitting Qantas’ new Airbus A380 cabin. It could be possible that the aircraft is being stripped of its interior. However, there’s also the possibility it could be fixed up before heading to a new operator. After all, why spend money on maintenance if you’re only planning to scrap the aircraft? Additionally, the interior could also be removed wherever the aircraft were to be scrapped.
Indeed, in July, Hi Fly told Simple Flying: “Our plan is to operate the A380 for a full fiscal year before deciding when to introduce the next one, most probably there will be a second unit arriving next year. We believe additional A380 aircraft will join our fleet very soon.” Could it perhaps be heading here?
What do you think will happen to the first Airbus A380 to be retired from Air France’s fleet? Let us know in the comments below.