Air France Brings Forward A380 Retirements

Air France's A380s will not return to operation.
Credit: Joe Pries

PARIS—Air France has definitively ended Airbus A380 operations, bringing forward an existing plan to phase out the superjumbo following the coronavirus outbreak. 

“In the context of the current COVID-19 crisis and its impact on anticipated activity levels, the Air France-KLM group announces today the definitive end of Air France Airbus A380 operations,” it said May 20.

The group had previously planned to phase out its A380 fleet by the end of 2022 as part of a broader strategy of rationalizing and simplifying its fleet in a bid to improve competitiveness and profitability. 

Five of the A380s in the fleet are owned by Air France or on finance leases, while four are on operating leases, the carrier said.

According to Aviation Week Network’s FleetDiscovery database, all nine aircraft are in storage: five at Charles De Gaulle (CDG) in Paris; two at Tarbes–Lourdes–Pyrénées (LDE) in southwest France; and two at Spain’s Teruel Airport (TEV).  

The group expects the overall impact of the A380 phase-out to amount to a writedown of €500 million ($550 million) and said that would be booked in the second quarter of 2020 as a non-current cost/expense.

Air France said the A380s would be replaced by A350s and Boeing 787s. The flag-carrier announced an order for 10 extra Airbus A350s in December, adding to an existing order. It said at the time they would replace its departing A380s and help it to speed up the departure of its A340s. 

Lufthansa has also announced plans to retire six of its 14 A380s following the drastic drop in demand and expected slow recovery caused by the coronavirus crisis.

Helen Massy-Beresford

Based in Paris, Helen Massy-Beresford covers European and Middle Eastern airlines, the European Commission’s air transport policy and the air cargo industry for Aviation Week & Space Technology and Aviation Daily.