After all, the French national airline intends to fleet out all Airbus A380s. A Lufthansa-style deal could help Air France.
Originally, Benjamin Smith wanted to make the big cut. The head of Air France-KLM planned to halve the number of Air France Airbus A380s from ten to five. In the end, the reduction turned out to be smaller. At the end of last year, the French national airline decided not to renew the leasing contracts for three superjumbos for the time being, which expire at the end of 2019.
But Smith does not seem to have given up on the idea. On the contrary. Apparently, the Air France KLM driver is now planning to say goodbye to the Airbus A380 entirely, as the consistently well-informed business paper La Tribune writes. Smith believes that the refurbishment of the cabin of the seven remaining superjumbos, which has been postponed time and again and is now urgently needed, would not pay off.
Road to 2024?
The Air France business class on the A380 offers 80 seats on the upper deck that can be reclined but not turned into a lie-flat bed. This is no longer the industry standard. The interior would, therefore, have to be completely renewed soon, which would cost dozens of millions. Smith would rather invest the money in new long-haul aircraft that would enable Air France to generate higher revenues.
According to La Tribune, the new plan is to let the leasing contracts for two more superjumbos expire as well. Regarding the five Airbus A380s owned by Air France itself, Smith wants to negotiate a Lufthansa-style deal with Airbus. The German airline ordered 20 more A350-900s in March and in return sold six of its A380s back to the European aircraft manufacturer. This is what the French want to achieve with their five remaining A380s. The last are scheduled to leave the fleet by 2023 or 2024.
Airbus A330 Neo for Air France?
As the paper writes, Air France is looking at the Airbus A350-1000 as a successor to the A380, but management apparently deems it expensive. That’s why it’s been keeping an eye out for the Airbus A330 Neo. The Boeing 787, which Air France already operates, is also in the race. Then, the returned superjumbos would have to be deducted from a pending order for short- and medium-haul jets.