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Air France Delays A380 Cabin Refurbishment (Again!)

The A380 - the flagship of the AF fleet

The A380 – the flagship of the AF fleet

Air France as a company has never been known for their efficiency. And they seem to be continued down the same track.

Their A380 fleet – the same type of aircraft that operates their ‘flagship’ and trunk routes to premium heavy cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai – still has their old hard product. As in their outdated slanted flat seats in Business Class and their very ‘open’ old First Class product where there’s little to no privacy (completely unacceptable if you’re paying for First).

Outdated: the current Biz offering on the AF A380

Outdated: the current Biz offering on the AF A380

Compare and contrast: the new Business product on their new 777 fleet

Compare and contrast: the new Business product on their 777 fleet

Also keep in mind that the A380 seats do NOT feature direct aisle access to all passengers – window people need to climb over their aisle counterparts to get to the aisle and move around – on a longhaul flight, like most A380 operated flights, this is once again simply unacceptable.

I mean their sister company KLM offers FULLY flat beds in Business Class on all their long haul aircraft. Oh, and direct aisle access for all.

In comparison, a sub-fleet for their Boeing 777 features their new ‘reverse herringbone’ Business Class seats, the shell premium economy seats and an excellent First Class with the novel addition of curtains to add to privacy.

Some of the aforementioned cities, such as New York, Singapore and Dubai do also get this product, if you’re on one of their multiple dailies that the 777 operates. But you could just as well end up on the old A380 product, which is vastly inferior – and to cities such as Tokyo and Los Angeles, you don’t have a choice with the only flight per day operated by the old product.

How Air France, a perceived premium airline and leading SkyTeam carrier sees this as acceptable we’re not sure, but this is what the newspaper La Tribune had to say about the issue:

 

Redevelopment of A380 cabins of Air France is once again shifted. When former CEO of Air France-KLM, Alexandre de Juniac had announced the project in June 2014 , the first redesigned aircraft was to be completed in winter 2017. In early 2016, the CEO of Air France, Frédéric Gagey, rather had mentioned the year 2018 without further detail. On Tuesday, the tourism IFTM Top Resa, the same Frédéric Gagey again shifted the date.
So, we’re two years out to updating what’s already a very outdated product.
What’s even more bizzare, is that apparently, according to the newspaper, the airline has instead given importance to updating their A330 aircraft, that mostly serve their secondary long haul destinations and to lower yielding destinations in Francophone Africa:
When asked in an aside, he declined to provide details. In fact, management has not yet decided on the exact type of development, including the size of each class of service. This is crucial for the economy of the lines. Given the cost of redevelopment (between 150 and 200 million euros), Air France has no interest to be wrong. Air France has preferred to give priority to the redevelopment of the A330, from the “winter 2017-2018.
Just what the hell the thought process behind this decision making is yet to be seen and officially confirmed by the airline, but as a passenger we’re definitely not happy and will also definitely give second thought to purchasing an AF ticket in Business or First before they actually make tangible changes to their hard product to bring them to standard, and in a timely manner. Some product consistency would also be a good idea for the airline, and as a SkyTeam elite we wouldn’t be happy with a slanted narrow bed with an outdated entertainment system on an overnight hop from JFK to Paris and we feel as though we most likely aren’t the only ones.
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