Air France says goodbye to its first Airbus A380

Paris, France - Yesterday (Nov 24) French flag carrier Air France ferried an Airbus A380 (F-HPJB) from Paris to Malta. Air France's flight AF370V marks the beginning of the retirement process of the airline's ten superjumbo jets. The carrier plans to retire all of its A380s in the fleet before 2022.

Air France's A380 will be repainted full-white in Malta and returned to the German lessor Dr. Peters Group. The F-HPJB joined Air France in 2010 as the second Airbus A380 delivered to the French operator.

After ten years of operation, it is not a secret that the French company lost its love to the iconic aircraft.

It’s a tough airplane. At airports to board and to deplane takes a long time with special bridges required to accommodate the size. It takes a long time to get your bags, it uses more fuel. Operationally, it’s not the best airplane to use,

said Air France-KLM Group CEO, Ben Smith on Nov. 20, during the sidelines of an IATA event in Berlin, Germany.

Air France is the second carrier to retire Airbus A380s in the World after Singapore Airlines. The Asian carrier already removed five units from its fleet. The first A380 registered 9V-SKA, which was operated by Singapore Airlines for ten years, was completely dismantled in Tarbes, France by the European aircraft storage, maintenance, and recycling company Aerosave.

It took French company 11 months to remove all recyclable components of the aircraft.

First Airbus A380 is being dismantled

Today, Airlines are in favor of more efficient planes with lower operating costs rather than operating larger jets such as Airbus' A380 and Boeing's 747. The operators prefer newer generation widebodies such as the A350 and Boeing 787 - 777X for their long-haul operations.

Airbus aims to establish a healthy second-hand market for the A380s

Due to the lack of market demand, Airbus announced that it would stop the production of the A380s in 2021 after delivering the remaining A380s of the Emirates Airlines, the largest operator of the type in the world.

But that won’t stop the European planemaker to promote the aircraft as a second-hand option among the airlines such as Portuguese charter operator HiFly.

Hi Fly airbus A380

Airbus is helping leasing companies to find new operators for the returned A380s. Last year, Hi Fly, the Portuguese wet-lease specialist, became the first operator of a secondhand Airbus A380.

Paulo Mirpuri, President, and CEO of Hi Fly said that they were planning to add another secondhand A380 to expand charter operations of his company.

A second A380 will be a lot easier, so we will be driven by market demand. And we will need to have one full year of operation before we decide about the next one, and the third one, and the fourth one,

Mirpuri said during a press conference.

Last month, Airbus said secondhand A380s offer new opportunities to the airlines, lessors and charter operators, which would guarantee the existence and the profitability of the aircraft for decades to come.

The manufacturer has so far delivered 239 Airbus A380 to 15 different airlines around the globe.