Buried on page 87 of the Air France-KLM year-end financial statements was this note regarding the substitution of two on order A380s for three A350-900s:
Air France previously deferred these in 2013, pushing delivery back to 2017. As per Aviation Daily, A380s no longer fit with the “future strategy and vision” of Air France.
The airline has long struggled with properly utilizing the A380s which are fitted with 80 business and 9 first class seats. Many critics claimed that the high capacity low frequency long-haul routes that made the most sense for the aircraft to operate were also low margin…and so the number of business and first seats just didn’t make business sense.
A French publication, Les Echos, reports that Air France recognizes the problem and plans to unveil an updated A380 cabin configuration which could include the complete removal of first class as well as a reduction of business seats and additional premium economy seating.