Air France has taken delivery of its first Airbus A380 and will be the first European airline to fly the double-deck aircraft on scheduled services.
The aircraft is the twentieth A380 delivered by Airbus. The aircraft was handed over in a delivery ceremony on October 30 in Hamburg, Germany to Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, and to Jean-Cyril Spinetta, respectively CEO of Air France-KLM and chairman of the board of directors of Air France-KLM.
Tom Enders, Airbus president and CEO, handed the aircraft over to the Air France-KLM executives in the presence of James Moravecek, president of Engine Alliance, which makes the GP7200 engines that are powering Air France’s A380s.
At the ceremony Air France unveiled its A380 cabin, featuring 538 seats in a three-class configuration: nine First, 80 Business and 449 Voyageur Economy seats. The cabin features innovative mood lighting with several different lighting scenarios to create a calm atmosphere and environment for its passengers.
“Each A380 will enable Air France to save 12 to 15 million euros a year, which, in today’s depressed economic climate, provides the company with the means to withstand the crisis,” said Gourgeon. “Air France will therefore be able to offer customers even greater comfort, while keeping costs under control. Furthermore, the performance of the A380 is in line with our environmental commitments”, he added.
The aircraft is powered by four Engine Alliance GP7200 engines delivering up to 72,000 lbs of static takeoff thrust each. The A380 consumes less than three litres of fuel per 100 kilometres per passenger. It also complies with today’s strictest noise limits, and also is the quietest large aircraft flying today.
According to Airbus, the A380 generates only half as much noise on take-off and landing as the previous largest passenger aircraft, the Boeing 747-400. The A380 allows extra passenger capacity without increasing the number of flights, and so can be part of the solution for sustainable growth at congested airports
The A380 has a range of more than 15,000 km/8,000nm, and Airbus claims the aircraft’s seat-mile costs are 20 per cent lower than its closest competitor.
Air France ordered 10 A380s in June 2001 and added another two in 2007. In recent months, it has deferred delivery of several for up to a year.
Air France’s first A380 will start its commercial service with inaugural flights on November 20 and November 21 the Paris-New York-Paris route. The airline is currently the largest Airbus operator in Europe with a fleet of 183 aircraft, 34 A330 and A340 widebodies and 149 A320-family aircraft.
Air France took delivery of the first Airbus production aircraft in 1974 and was also the first carrier in the world to operate aircraft from the entire Airbus single-aisle A320 Family.
The new Air France A380 is the 20th A380 delivered by Airbus. Of the first 19, 10 are flying with Singapore Airlines, five with Emirates and four with Qantas. These aircraft are connecting four continents on 13 major international routes.
Today 12 major international hub-airports around the world regularly welcome the A380: Auckland, Bangkok, Dubai, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Paris, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo and Toronto.
New York JFK also saw daily A380 service for several months from August 2008 by Emirates, which replaced its A380s on the route with Boeing 777-300ERs when the global economic crisis hit and instead transferred them to its service-frequency-constrained Dubai-Toronto service to handle traffic demand, but Emirates reportedly plans to resume daily A380 flights to New York JFK in the spring of 2010.
Up to now, the A380 fleet has accumulated over 75,000 revenue flight hours in more than 7,900 commercial flights. More than 2.5 million passengers have flown in A380s.
Airbus has won firm orders for 200 A380s from 16 customers worldwide, including Air France.