Air France's Airbus A380 landed for the first time in Johannesburg after departing from Paris-Charles de Gaulle at 23.30 the night before. This makes Air France the first airline to operate the world's largest passenger aircraft to the African continent.
As from today, the Airbus A380, equipped with 538 seats in three cabin classes - La Premiere (First), Affaires (Business) and Voyageur (Economy) - will operate three of the ten weekly
Air France services between Paris and Johannesburg up to 28 March 2010.
As from 28 March, Air France will operate seven weekly frequencies between Paris and Johannesburg including 3 by A380 until the third A380 is put into service, scheduled for the end of April. The route will then be entirely operated by A380.
“The entry into service of the A380 between Paris and Johannesburg, just after New York in November 2009, illustrates the importance Air France attaches to its services to Africa and in particular South Africa, where Air France has been present since 1953. It is also a sign of longterm
commitment on the part of the Air France-KLM group in this part of the world and of its confidence in the development of exchange between Africa and Europe”, declared Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, CEO of Air France-KLM.
The A380 is the most environment-friendly aircraft ever - with less than 75 grammes of CO2 emitted per passenger per kilometre - and the quietest of its generation. Its wide cabin offers passengers additional comfort and space. On board, Air France has innovated by offering different light intensities adapted to the various flight phases, relaxation areas for passengers to get together and a completely new in-flight entertainment system with wider screens.
The A380’s main deck represents the equivalent of a Boeing 777-200 and the upper deck represents that of an Airbus A340-300. Air France can therefore rationalize its frequencies on its most popular routes such as Paris-Johannesburg and replace two flights leaving within a short time of each other by just one flight, while at the same time offering the same number of seats with a 20% cost reduction.
“This inaugural flight symbolizes the strong historical links between Africa and Air France. It also illustrates a spirit of solidarity, an essential value to which our airline is highly committed. The Air France Foundation will be giving part of the proceeds of the auction of seats on board the Paris-New York inaugural flights last November to the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud association which provides help with education for children with AIDS in Cape Town. This represents close to 70,000 euros”, added Pierre-Henri Gourgeon.
Air France ordered twelve A380s, two of which have already been delivered. Following New York in November 2009 and Johannesburg in February 2010, Air France will also start operating the A380 to Tokyo in 2010.