Air France retired it’s first of 10 Airbus A380 super Jumbo’s yesterday (Saturday the 23rd of November 2019). The aircraft, registration F-HPJB, completed it’s last flight from Johannesburg to Paris and was then flown to Malta shortly afterwards. Juliet Bravo was retired quietly, with none of the usual fanfare associated with the retirement of an aircraft.
Air France is now the second airline which has decided to retire it’s – still relatively young – Airbus A380 fleet. Air France follows Singapore Airlines, who have already decommisioned one aircraft and moved another one onto leasing company, Hi-Fly. Emirates is now the only airline which has a keen interest in continuing to operate the A380.
However, amidst these moves, manufacturer Airbus will be ending all A380 production from 2021, which could cause future issues for Emirates should they want to continue A380 operations or expand the fleet.
Air France has said the reason for the retirement of the fleet is due to the limited market of the A380. In the current market, it is tough to find any profitably in the A380 routes currently flown. One of the main contributing factors to this is the ‘moderner’ two-engine aircraft such as the A350 or 787 – Both of which have a far better economy than any four-engine aircraft such as the A380.
Air France has also said that refreshing the interiors of each airframe would cost around €45 million (euros). The A380 also has inferior dispatch reliability, meaning that fights which have A380s on them are delayed significantly or cancelled altogether.
It will take a total of three years to retire the remaining nine aircraft, and this moment should be considered a sad moment for the industry. The A380 once thought of as the future of aviation.
Plans were thought up, of an aircraft that would be a mass people mover that could move 800 people all at once (if in all economy configuration) and fly them halfway around the world.
Another sad underlining factor, is that from the first flight in 2005 to the beginning of airline retirement, the A380 has lasted only 14 years. Each airframe was built to last 30 years, so with the first production aircraft now only 14 years old, and with over half of their life span still left in them it is unfortunate to see these aircraft retired so early
It’s also worth noting 747 retirements have been taking place for some time now alongside the A380 withdrawal. Still, in contrast, the 747 has been in service for over 50 years and has provided for the most part airlines with trouble-free service.
Does this mean the 747 is the ultimate queen of the sky? Did Airbus join the quad engine scene too late? Let us know in the comments below.