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An Air France A380 on final approach at LAX. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Air France Announces Immediate Retirement of A380 Fleet

Air France has announced it will immediately retire its Airbus A380 fleet following the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

The airline was due to retire nine A380s from its fleet by 2022, however, the French flag carrier has brought this date forward. In a statement, the airline said: “In the context of the current COVID-19 crisis and its impact on anticipated activity levels, the Air France-KLM Group announces today the definitive end of Air France Airbus A380 operations.”

“Initially scheduled by the end of 2022, the phase-out of Airbus A380 fleet fits in the Air France-KLM Group fleet simplification strategy of making the fleet more competitive, by continuing its transformation with more modern, high-performance aircraft with a significantly reduced environmental footprint,” the announcement said.

According to Air France, five A380s are either owned or on a financial lease, while the other four are on an operating lease. The incoming A350s and Boeing 787s will take over the routes that Air France deployed the A380 on.

The airline first took delivery of the superjumbo in October 2009 making it the first airline in Europe to operate the aircraft. Air France retired the first of the 12 A380s in January this year. Prior to the global pandemic, Air France operated the A380 from Paris Charles De Gaulle to Atlanta, Johannesburg, Mexico City, Miami, New York JFK, San Francisco, Shanghai and Washington Dulles.

The news announced today confirms the feeling across the airline industry that the A380 is now economically inefficient to operate, which has now been exaggerated by estimated passenger numbers in the future once the virus passes. Emirates, which is the largest A380 operator in the world, is reportedly looking to defer the eight that are yet to be delivered, as well as begin retiring some of the 115 it already operates.

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