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Air France ends A380 operations

Aviation Updates Philippines – Due to the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its operations, Air France officially announced Wednesday the "definitive" retirement of the airline's Airbus A380 fleet earlier than intended.

The retirement of Air France's nine-strong, originally 10, jumbo-jet fleet seems to be another blow for European aircraft manufacturer Airbus. The Airbus A380s were initially planned to exit the airline by 2022, but the unforeseen crash of the aviation industry brought it years forward.

"The phase-out of Airbus A380 fleet fits in the Air France-KLM Group fleet simplification strategy of making the fleet more competitive, by continuing its transformation with more modern, high-performance aircraft with a significantly reduced environmental footprint," Air France said in a statement.

According to the French national flag carrier, five aircraft are airline-owned or on finance-lease while the remaining four are on operating lease. The financial impact of the A380 phaseout in Air France's operations amounts to over €500 million.

The Airbus A380 will eventually be replaced by the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350-900. As of writing, Air France operates a fleet of five Airbus A350 aircraft with 33 more on order. On the other hand, the airline has nine Boeing 787 aircraft, and one more is expected to arrive.

In a report from The Points Guy, Emirates Chief Executive Officer Tim Clark said: "The A380 was a misfit for Air France. They never scaled." Clark went on to point out a few recommendations to Air France, such as a drastic improvement of the A380's interior to "shock and awe" their customers.

Air France is not only the one making this economical move. Crisis-stricken Lufthansa plans to end Airbus A380 operations in Frankfurt and to decommission half of the jumbo-jets it flies, according to Aero.de. From 14 aircraft, only seven will remain. The rest were already retired since the start of the pandemic.
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