Air France to remove half their Airbus A380s

Passengers who have traveled on the Airbus A380 have mostly praised the aircraft for its spacious, comfortable cabin and incredible characteristics such as size and acoustics, however this doesn’t mean the airline operating the type likes the aircraft as much.

Recently appointed CEO of Air France-KLM, Benjamin Smith, took the job hoping to revive Air France, and in his short period being CEO, has come to the conclusion that the A380, or at least the five being leased, have to go. The departure of the five aircraft would leave the airline with five.

Two of the aircraft will see their leases expire towards the end of 2019, which is when they’ll say goodbye to the airline. Following those two, the leases of the other three will expire not long after and depart separately until there’s five.

Air France’s A380 cabins are nothing compared to their Boeing 787 and 777 product, so plans to overhaul the cabins of the five remaining aircraft are in the making. 2020 is the target time frame to begin work, where the cabin will be removed and the same cabin found on the 787 and 777 will be installed. Each aircraft is expected to cost the airline $45 million to upgrade.

Air France Airbus A380-800

An order for 12 A380s was initially placed by Air France, before they converted two to the smaller Airbus A350. 28 A350-900s have been ordered by Air France-KLM, with some heading to their ‘millennial’ airline, Joon, and KLM before entering their own fleet. The Boeing 777-300ER, seating a passenger amount close to the A380, is out performing the A380 massively in terms of profit for Air France officials say.

With the Airbus A350-1000 and upcoming Boeing 777-9 seating large amounts of passengers, it might not be long until we see more airlines review the A380 in their fleet. The aircraft itself is a wonderful piece of engineering and power, however it never really hit the spot with airlines (Emirates being the exception). At the time where twin-engine aircraft are nearly as capable, the A380 came just a little too late. The low interest from Rolls-Royce and Engine Alliance to further upgrade the engines on the A380 isn’t helping either.

With almost no serious interest from airlines to acquire second-hand Airbus A380s, the next step is to have them scrapped. Parts retailers will spend the time carefully removing valuable systems, covers, fixtures etc before bringing in the scissors.

Emirates, who loves to maintain a young fleet of aircraft, will have to make a decision, when the time comes, on what to do with their aircraft. To scrap or to keep until they age out? Airbus won’t produce the aircraft forever so a greater decision has to be made: To keep the A380 as flagship or pass the crown to the 150 Boeing 777x aircraft on order?