In December, the Government of France decided to sell two French Air Force (Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace) Airbus A340-200s at auction with a bargain-basement starting price of just €80,000 ($96,000). Sold as-is, complete with engines and a fully fitted out interior, the two planes were available for viewings at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) between December 15 and December 22, with the auction scheduled to occur December 22.
According to Planespotters.net, both aircraft were delivered to the French Air Force in 2005 after having been in service with Austrian Airlines since February 1995. Like many other airlines, the Austrian national flag carrier decided to retire its Airbus A340s in favor of more fuel-efficient twin-engine aircraft.
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The A340 aircraft was used for aid missions
When entering service with the French Airforce, both planes were assigned to the 3/60 Estérel transport squadron (Escadron de Transport 3/60 Estérel), primarily based at Creil Air Base 9CFS Oise, northern France. During their time with the French Air Force, the planes took part in the following missions:
- Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in Japan in 2011
- The evacuation of Chadian nationals from Bangui in 2013
- Provided aid to Kurds at Erbil airport in Iraq in 2014
- Hurricane Irma within the West Indies in 2017
- Repatriations from Wuhan, China following the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020
The first of the two aircraft registration number F-RAJA has, over its lifetime, accumulated 70,320 flight hours and 12,257 flight cycles. The second of the two aircraft, registration number F-RAJB, racked up slightly fewer flight hours with 68,102 and 12,112 flight cycles.
According to the seller, F-RAJA was last serviced on 09/30/2020 by TAP maintenance and engineering. Simultaneously, the second Airbus A340-200 F-RAJB received its last maintenance by the same maintenance and engineering company on 06/29/2020. While both planes are described as airworthy, it is impossible to verify when they were last active as military aircraft are blocked from public ADS-B tracking services.
The planes are being replaced by A330-200s
While in service with the French Air Force, the planes were used primarily for troop transport and evacuation flights and never for VIP flights for politicians and dignitaries. The planes are to be replaced by three Airbus A330-200s, two of which have already been delivered, with the third expected to arrive in 2022.
Conditions attached to the aircraft’s sale stipulated that the buyers pay an 11% sales tax on the winning bid and that the aircraft are removed from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) before December 31, 2020. The buyer then has one month to remove all markings and logos associated with the French Air Force.
Both planes found a buyer
Buying a widebody passenger plane is an expensive investment for anyone. Although saying that the French government’s starting price for the planes seems quite reasonable when you consider new, they sold for $105 million. To buy a modern widebody jet like an Airbus A350-900 will set you back more than $317 million.
While we do not yet know who bought the planes, we can confirm the auction site the government used to sell the planes received a winning bid of 440,000€ for F-RAJA and 400,000€ for F-RAJB. When we find out who the buyer was, we will add it to this article.
What do you think about the final sales price? Did the buyer get a good deal, or was it a fair market price for the planes given their age and cost to operate? Please tell us what you think in the comments.