August 2012

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A380 goes short-haul for Air France into Heathrow

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The A380 completed its first scheduled short-haul route today, with the arrival of F-HPJB into London's Heathrow Airport from Charles De Gaulle in Paris, just 188nm to the north. The route was designed to utilize the superjumbo between flights to Johannesburg.
The carrier's summer schedule shows that its daily AF995 service from Johannesburg arrives in Paris Charles de Gaulle at 06:05, but does not depart again as AF990 until 23:20. "A very early arrival in Paris and a late departure in the evening leaves the aircraft available during the day to operate the Paris-London-Paris route, in between two long-haul flights," says a spokeswoman for Air France. It states that the flight, designated AF1980/1981 will be available between 12 June and 30 August. The service will depart Paris at 10:05 and arrive back in the French capital at 15:05, slotting between the South African sectors.
The 538-seat superjumbo now joins Airbus A320 and ATR-72 on the heavily traveled route. Air France initially offered economy seats across the channel for 80 euros, giving travelers (and airplane geeks) the chance to fly the A380 without ending up on the other side of the planet. The French carrier has only offered economy and business seating on the route, with the nine First Class seats unoccupied for the brief flight.

Once the summer route runs its course, I would be curious if this service is operated profitably for the airline. Customers paying a premium to fly the superjumbo over other aircraft types is not unheard of and the ability for higher per-seat yields makes this route a test case for other heavily flown nearby city pairs. The A380 was designed for hub-to-hub flying, I just don't think Airbus envisioned the hubs would be this close.

Video Credit mcpcshowcaseHD (Airspace)

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