While it’s been a rough year so far in general, it’s been far more rough on travel. With multiple airlines speeding up fleet retirements, we’re going to lose some aircraft completely. Among these are the Air France A380s. While Emirates is also retiring a number of the behemoth aircraft, they will continue to fly the model for a while yet. Air France retiring their A380 fleet pains me more, far more.
Air France Retiring A380 Aircraft
On May 20th Air France-KLM announced the “definitive end” of Air France Airbus A380 operations. Their super-jumbos were initially slated to operate for a couple more years, retired gradually between now and sometime in 2022. One A380 had already been retired, which meant there were nine to go out of the fleet operated by Air France.
With the current ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, speeding up the retirement makes great financial sense. Even once operations do pick up, filling a large aircraft like the A380 will be tough. I cannot imagine travel demand will rebound enough for Air France to operate them even close to profitably until sometime next year.
Air France has been in the process of modernizing the fleet, and the A380 will be replaced by far more fuel efficient A350s and Boeing 787s.
Why I’m Sad to See the A380 Go
If you’ve flown the aircraft in a premium cabin, you might be wondering why this is a loss. While Air France is known for having an excellent business and first class cabin and experience on their 777s, the A380 leaves a lot to be desired, based on everything I’ve read and heard from those who’ve flown it.
That being said, my Air France A380 economy flight home from Paris with my two older kids is still my favorite economy experience crossing the Atlantic. The seats and cabin were comfortable, the service good, and the food decent. Of all the features I loved, the footrest was the best part. This is rare in an economy cabin, but personally, it really helps me get comfortable for sleeping or napping.
I doubt I would have flown the cabin again in the next couple years, as I really like to experience new airlines, but it would have been high on my list, all other things considered.
With Air France retiring A380 aircraft, effective immediately, they are the first airline to pull the type from their fleet. We knew the day was coming, we just didn’t know it would be here so quickly and abruptly. I would not be surprised to see other airlines retire their A380s fleets completely due to COVID-19.
H/T: One Mile at at Time