Air France Accelerates Boeing 747 Retirement Schedule

Air France has brought forward the retirement of the Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet from its scheduled passenger operations by around ten weeks, according to the latest update of its schedule inventory. The European flag carrier had tentatively set the end of the winter schedules in late March 2016 for the end of 747 operations, but it has emerged this week it has accelerated the type’s retirement and will instead stop using the 747 on scheduled passenger services from January 10, 2016.

Among the early customers for the 747, Air France was one of the largest operators of the type in the world flying four major variants of the aircraft and more than 70 aircraft over five decades of scheduled service. It has now reduced its fleet to just five 747-400s having replaced the type with more efficient 777 and larger A380 equipment.

The airline currently utilises its remaining 747-400s on flights from its Charles De Gaulle Airport hub in Paris to Atlanta, Boston, Mexico City and Toronto (a one-off flight to Caracas, Venezuela is also scheduled for September 5, 2015). It will cease serving Toronto with the aircraft from the end of August, while flights to the US will end when the summer schedules closes in late October.

This will leave Mexico City as the sole daily market to be served by the 747-400 from the start of the winter 2015/2016 schedules, although the type will also be used on three weekly flights to Mauritius from December 14, 2015.

The latest update of its flight schedules currently shows the airline’s last scheduled departures with the 747-400 operating on January 10, 2016 with a 23:10 local departure from Mauritius and a 21:10 local departure from Mexico City. These aircraft will arrive in Paris at 08:00 and 14:25, respectively on January 11, 2016.

Our analysis of OAG Schedules Analyser data shows the reduction in 747 flight operations by Air France over the last ten years. In 2005, the airline operated more than 10,000 flights with the type offering almost 4.7 million seats. It has subsequently reduced its operations with the type each year (with the exception of 2013 where there was a small operation and capacity increase versus 2012) and this year’s schedule is around a fifth of the size of the operation from ten years ago.

Richard Maslen

Richard Maslen has travelled across the globe to report on developments in the aviation sector as airlines and airports have continued to evolve and…