The big news of the day is Air France replacing all A380s with the Airbus A330neo. While it has been known for some time that the French carrier would ditch three Airbus A380s at the end of their leases, this has now escalated to a total retirement of the fleet.
Bean counters have determined that it is too expensive to continue flying the double-decker, since they require a cabin refurbishment and a major check. Instead, more twins are the answer.
Air France Replacing All A380s In Numbers
Looking into the numbers provides a pretty grim story. According to Flight Global, Air France quote cabin refurbishments costing €35 million per A380, plus another €50 million each for their 12 year major maintenance checks. That’s €595 million for seven aircraft!
Compounding the issue is the per-seat fuel consumption. This is quoted in another article at 20-25% higher than the most modern twins available at the moment. Put all of that together and you can see that the case for retiring the Airbus A380 at Air France is a good one.
Replacing It With An A330neo Though?
Intriguingly, Air France are evaluating the Airbus A330neo as a replacement for the Airbus A380 fleet. They believe that nine neos can replace their fleet of ten superjumbos.
Considering the differences in capacity, it says to me that the A380 is just too much aircraft for Air France. Either way, the airline believes they will make more money without the superjumbo in their fleet.
Air France replacing all A380s was always a possibility. Having to put such a huge amount of money into them to update the cabins, coupled with the relative inefficiency compared to today’s twins means removing them from the fleet is the right decision. The first three come off lease in 2020, and the remaining seven are due to be gone by 2022.
Qatar Airways are also planning to retire their Airbus A380s early and Malaysia Airlines also want to get rid of their fleet. Unfortunately there is little or no second hand market for the aircraft. The first Singapore Airlines jets to be retired were mostly scrapped for parts. Just one went on to another operator for ad hoc charter work.
What do you think of the news that Air France is retiring the Airbus A380s? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
Featured image by Basil D Soufi and TAP A330neo by km30192002. Both via Wikimedia Commons.