Air France will gradually retire half of its A380 fleet, starting in 2019. The move is sad, but smart.
Air France currently operates 10 A380s. Five are owned, five are leased. All are tragically uncompetitive. By that, I mean that Air France has a business class product onboard that is extremely outdated (and not even lie-flat) and a first class seat that should be called business class. The first class seats are comfortable, but there is no privacy and they feel extremely outdated.
To update each aircraft will cost a whopping 45 million Euros! Furthermore, these planes are more expensive to operate than the 777-300ER and are more prone to technical issues. Thus, it is no surprise that Air France has decided that it will begin returning its leased A380s next year. All five A380s that are currently leased will be returned. Per LesEchos.fr, the five owned A380s will be retrofitted.
As much as I love the Queen of the Skies, the A380 is so sleek, so beautiful, and so quiet. I am really sad that Air France has struggled to make its A380 more successful. But I am happy that five aircraft will be re-configured with new and refreshed cabins. Unfortunately, that process will not start until 2020, so if you are a discerning traveler in business or first class, you are going to want to continue to avoid that aircraft.
With a €45,000,000 price tag to retrofit each A380, it is really no wonder that Air France will abandon half of its A380s. Any guesses as to who will buy/lease them?
(H/T: One Mile at a Time)