European flag carriers Air France and Lufthansa have both revised the flight schedules for their Airbus A380 fleets and revealed plans to introduce the Super Jumbo on flights to Shanghai later this year. Air France will introduce the A380 on its route from Paris Charles de Gaulle from September 2, 2013 while Lufthansa will introduce the type on its flights from Frankfurt to the Chinese city with effect from September 26, 2013.
Air France will initially use the A380 on three of its 14 weekly flights, replacing a Boeing 777-300ER on its late night rotations from both Paris and Shanghai. The A380 will be used outbound on flights from Europe on Monday, Thursday and Friday and will return from Asia on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. At the same time the new schedule is introduced Air France will end A380 operations to Singapore, reverting to a 777-300ER on its daily rotation from September 2, 2013.
Air France configures its A380s in a mix of three- and four-class arrangements. Its initial deliveries were fitted with a three-class offering of 538 seats with 80 Business Class and 106 Economy Class seats on the upper deck, and nine First Class and 343 Economy Class seats on the main deck. Subsequent deliveries have included its new Premium Voyageur (Premium Economy) cabin and 69 Economy seats on the upper deck being replaced by 38 Premium Voyageur seats meaning a total capacity for 516 passengers – Nine in First Class, 80 in Business Class, 38 in Premium Economy and 389 in Economy. The carrier plans to gradually retrofit its existing three-class A380 aircraft with the new seating.
[[content url="pullquote" quote="By serving Shanghai by Airbus A380, we are pursuing our development strategy on growth markets. This new route by A380 demonstrates the excellent cooperation between the French and Chinese aviation authorities, which have made this agreement possible." person=" Alexandre de Juniac" org=" Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Air France "]
The introduction of the A380 will increase Air France’s weekly capacity on the route by 14.2 per cent or 15.8 per cent depending upon the version of the aircraft used. The French flag carrier flies alongside Air China and China Eastern Airlines on the route. In 2012 it had a 39.0 per cent share of the estimated 324,000 bi-directional O&D passengers between the two cities. The market grew around 14.9 per cent during 2012 but Air France’s own share slipped from 44 per cent the earlier year.
“By serving Shanghai by Airbus A380, we are pursuing our development strategy on growth markets. This new route by A380 demonstrates the excellent cooperation between the French and Chinese aviation authorities, which have made this agreement possible,” said Alexandre de Juniac, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Air France.
Just three weeks after Air France’s Shanghai A380 debut, Lufthansa will introduce the type on five weekly flights to the Chinese city from Frankfurt on September 26, 2013. This will be its second scheduled A380 link into China as it already uses the aircraft on its flights to the capital, Beijing. The German national carrier currently offers a double daily link but will cut the frequency to 12 flights a week following the introduction of the A380 with the other daily rotation flown by an Airbus A340-600. From the start of the winter 2013/2014 schedules on October 27, 2013 its current GDS inventory suggests a single daily rotation will be offered on the route with five flights operated by the A380 and two using a 747-400.
Lufthansa configures its A380s with a total of 526 seats, including eight in First Class, 98 in Business Class and 420 in Economy Class and this will result in a 9.2 per cent weekly capacity increase during the last month of the summer schedule versus the 747-400 it replaces despite the frequency reduction. Besides Shanghai and Beijing, Lufthansa is currently operating A380 flights to Houston, Johannesburg, San Francisco, Singapore and Tokyo during the 2013 summer schedule.
Lufthansa competes directly with Air China and China Eastern Airlines on the route, each offering a daily operation using an A340 and A330 respectively. In 2012, an estimated 303,000 bi-directional O&D passengers flew between Frankfurt and Shanghai, up 10.5 per cent on the previous year. Lufthansa last year had a 26.9 per cent share of this traffic. Alongside its flights between Frankfurt and Shanghai the Star Alliance founding member also serves the Chinese city from Munich, while sister carrier Swiss International Air Lines offers a direct connection from Zurich.