According to Les Echos the present fleet size of 10 A380s will be reduced to five.
Two A380s (currently leased) will be returned to their lessor next year with the other three (also leased) returned later.
The news was confirmed by Canadian Benjamin Smith, Air France’s newly appointed CEO.
Two main reasons.
• Air France finds the A380 costly to operate compared with its B777-300ERs which carry almost as many passengers.
• To renovate the A380s (whose seating and amenities are now dated) is too costly at Euros 45 million per aircraft (Euros 225 million for five A380s).
So it’s little wonder that Air France, which is not cash-rich after many strikes this year, baulks at the cost. Over the past years It has postponed refurbishment several times.
But even this latest refurbishment plan will not take place until Autumn 2020 reports Les Echos. And that’s just for the first A380. It will take many months to refurbish all five A380s.
Air France’s A380s need updating in line with modern requirements. Compared to other A380 operators the Air France [A380] fleet is showing its age.
Says Les Echos, “The lack of a new cabin on the A380s has ended up tarnishing their reputation amongst regular customers.”
“These aircraft have the highest rate of negative feedback amongst business travellers.”
Other long-haul aircraft in Air France’s fleet either have or will soon have the latest generation of seating and onboard amenities.
Perhaps the news ought not to come as a total surprise. Before joining Air France, Benjamin Smith was COO at Air Canada.
And Air Canada, as our readers can testify, has skilfully managed to accommodate 450 passengers on its B777-300ERs whose operating costs are lower compared to the A380.