As I predicted, Air France will not bother to retrofit its A380 fleet, but instead retire it by 2022. The writing was on the wall.
Last November, Air France announced it would return half of its A380 fleet rather than retrofit it. Balking at the 45MN EUR price tag per aircraft to retrofit, Air France initially opted to keep the five A380s it owned and return the five it leased. But even that proved too great of a price tag.
It was only last month that I speculated that Air France would likely retire its entire A380 fleet early. That was on the basis of a statement from CEO Ben Smith:
The other seven have older seats and we’re in the middle of making the decision on how long those A380s will be staying in the Air France fleet and whether we should invest €30-€40 million ($33.8-$45.1 million) per aircraft in upgrading those seats.
That rather ominous statement along with Air France’s tripartite fleet goal made the answer clear.
- Simplicity around the fleet
- Efficiency of aircraft layouts
- Consistency of product
The A380 did not simplify the fleet, it was not efficient, and it would cost up to 45MN EUR per aircraft to make it consistent.
Thus, when Air France announced the A380 retirement yesterday, I was not at all surprised. Smith said:
This is a very important next step in Air France’s transformation, and this evolution in Air France’s fleet underlines the Group’s determination to attain European airline leadership.
Air France will order A220s for shorthaul flying, focus on 787 and A350s for its longhaul product, and retire its A380s by 2022. As much as I love the A380 as a passenger, this move undeniably makes sense. Not only was the premium cabin product woefully uncompetitive on the A380, it simply did not make financial sense to retrofit. Sadly for customers, that means three more years of a business class seat is at least a decade démodé.
C’est la vie my dear Air France A380…
> Read More:
> Read More: Air France May Retire A380 Even Earlier
image: James Rowson / Wikimedia Commons