We were all afraid this day would come. Today, Air France stated their plans to retire it’s final Airbus A380 aircraft. Passengers are not invited onboard the final flight, but the airline is welcoming pilots, technical and nontechnical staff who spent hours of work on the aircraft for the final showdown! On June 26, 2020 (Friday), the final Air France A380 will take off at 3:30pm local time (2:30pm BST), operating as flight AF380. The flight will operate from Air France’s base at Charles de Gaulle (CDG), Paris.
The aircraft is planned to operate a route around the country, before landing back in Paris in slightly more than 2 hours. On Friday, you can track the aircraft here.
The final flight of the super jumbo will be operated by an 8-year old aircraft registered F-HPJH. This aircraft was withdrawn from service on March 23, 2020, after operating the last commercial flight from Miami (MIA) to Paris (CDG) the previous day. While the last flight of the jumbo is being operated as flight AF380, it is interesting to note that Air France’s first commercial flight with the A380 which was operated on November 23, 2009, was also flight AF380!
Since then, the carrier has operated 10 A380 aircraft, serving up to 16 destinations. The renowned Airbus has ferried almost 18 million passengers and has operated more than 40000 flights for Air France. Despite these staggering numbers, Benjamin Smith, the Chief Executive of Air France-KLM Group has long opposed the prolonged usage of the A380 in their fleet, stating that the super jumbo was too inefficient for usage according to Air France-KLM’s business model. Additionally, Air France also aspires to reduce the carbon footprint of their fleet. In a statement, the carrier stated:
‘With four engines, the A380 consumes 20-25% more fuel per seat than new generation long-haul aircraft, and therefore emits more CO2.’
Air France will replace the this aircraft the efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350 aircraft.
Amidst the ongoing crisis, airlines globally are forced to rethink their expenses and restructure their fleet and route networks. Airbus A380 has largely been the first domino to fall, followed by other quad-engine jets, for most airlines in an attempt to conserve capital. On similar lines, German flag bearer, Lufthansa, has also confirmed that their A380s will remain grounded well into 2021.
With Airbus A380s slowly joining the other quad-engine jets in aircraft graveyards, this pitches an interesting question – has the pandemic forced airlines to prioritise efficiency of their fleet over efficacy, at an accelerated pace? We can be sure of one thing, if it had not been for the pandemic, many quad-engine jets would still be flying.
What do you think of this milestone in aviation? As much as we will miss the Air France A380, we believe this is also a sign of the industry moving towards a greener and more efficient future. A silver lining, afterall!