Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Air France Launches A380 Shuttle

 Airbus likely didn't envision its super-long-range flagship A380 being used as a shuttle but Air France apparently thinks it can make money hopping across the English Channel with the giant airliner. The airline will begin summer weekend A380 service between London's Heathrow and Paris's Charles de Gaulle airports June 12. There will be one flight a day each way from Saturday to Monday for most of the summer and Friday flights will be added for July. Air France is launching the service with a seat sale and one-way tickets are about $275 on the reservations Web site.

The gate-to-gate flight time is about 75 minutes, most of it spent in climb and descent. Obviously the flight will increase capacity on the already-busy route but Air France also has some internal reasons for the move. The airline currently operates three A380s on traditional long-haul routes like Paris-Johannesburg and Paris-New York and it has nine more super jumbos on order. The London-Paris hop is a good way to introduce large numbers of cabin and flight crew members to the aircraft in a relatively short period of time in advance of the other aircraft deliveries.

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