The last flight of the A380 for Air France employees

Air France said goodbye to the A380 Friday with a last two-hour flight offered to 516 employees of the company on board the giant of the air, to which the coronavirus crisis gave the final blow. For two hours, the 516 passengers – pilots, hostesses and stewards, mechanics etc. – who worked on the largest commercial aircraft in the world, made a loop over France before returning to land at Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle.

On the tarmac, the firefighters offered them a «water salute», a monumental arch made with water lances at full throttle, reserved for special occasions. “Thanks to the A380 teams”, could we read on a sign brandished by a hostess when boarding. This final flight marks the end of the Airbus flagship’s career with the French national airline, the first European company to operate it in November 2009.

In just over ten years, the company’s ten A380s have flown nearly 40,000 flights, carrying around 18 million passengers to the United States, China, South Africa and Mexico, according to Air France. The last commercial flight, a Johannesburg-Paris, took place on March 23, in the middle of a pandemic. Air France, which had already decided to stop flying the giant in late 2022 due in particular to its excessively high operating costs, accelerated the movement with the crisis due to the coronavirus and the slow announced recovery of long-haul traffic. mail. “The overall impact of the depreciation of the Airbus A380 fleet is estimated at 500 million euros”, according to the company.

Air France had already returned the first aircraft to the lessor Dr Peters in January. The remaining nine are currently parked in Roissy (6 aircraft), Tarbes (1) and at the Spanish airport of Teruel (2). Four of them will be returned to the lessor while Air France will try to sell the five aircraft it owns. For Airbus, the A380 will remain as an industrial flagship but a commercial failure. The sections of the last of the 251 aircraft ordered arrived by special convoy on June 18 in Toulouse. The aircraft will be delivered in 2021 to Emirates, its largest customer (115 aircraft), which has announced that it will continue to operate the A380. But company president Tim Clark considers that with the pandemic, an air giant like the A380 is at term “Purposes.”

See also – Orly: relive the takeoff of the first aircraft after almost three months of closure

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