AirFrance to retire all A380’s by 2024

In an unsurprising move AirFrance yesterday admitted it would retire the remaining A380’s in service by the end of summer season 2024.

The first batch of leased aircraft will be retired during 2020-21.

The five remaining aircraft will be refreshed (three owned aircraft definitely will be, two more probably will), with new cabins during 2020, but with maintenance issues and costs rising with fewer aircraft their early withdrawal was expected.

There are apparently technical issues with the aircraft – especially the engines – and one is said to be unserviceable almost every week.

The aircraft have hardly been upgraded since their initial introduction in 2009 and are considered to be looking very tired.

Refit costs are estimated at €20 million per aircraft.

The question for AirFrance is what to replace them with. The airline is said to consider the A350-1000 too expensive, and is leaning towards the -900, even the A339 is under consideration.

Frankly years of poor management and bad decision making have undermined the A380 and its purpose – operating between large hubs.

Not updating the aircraft and the dire customer service through years of industrial relations disputes didn’t help.

They’ve become tainted with the management of the past, and an airline desperate to find its focus in a different way as it moves forward under a new CEO, who simply doesn’t like the aircraft or the costly infrastructure that supports it.

Taking some out of service inevitably reduces the viability of the others – this decision is no surprise. Full details in what will – or won’t – be updated or replaced are due in October.