"Air France Commits to 10 A380s
Air France has firmed up its MOU to buy the Airbus A380 superjumbo, choosing to commit to 10 firm orders for the aircraft, with four options.
Air France is scheduled to take delivery in November 2006, and plans to configure the aircraft in a three-class layout with approximately 555 seats. It is the first A380 buyer to choose the GE
-Pratt & Whitney Engine Alliance GP7000 powerplant for the aircraft.
The airline plans to use the aircraft to connect Paris with Los Angeles, Montreal, New York and Tokyo. Air France President Jean-Cyril Spinetta says he isn't concerned about airport issues with the aircraft in any of those sites. "Today, we operate a flight from Paris to the French West Indies that carries more than 500 people on a 747-300," he said. "We know how to do it, and we will know how to do it on a new aircraft."
Spinetta cited four reasons for purchasing the aircraft: the finite number of take-off slots available at the world's busiest airports; a promised lower noise signature; low cost per seat mile; and "the improved service that the extra space makes possible."
Airbus Chairman Noï¿½l Forgeard deflected a question about the value of the contract and whether the airframer slashed the price to make a deal. "The list price is $230 million, so the value is 10 times that, $2.3 billion, right? But I will also note that Air France has very good negotiators."
The announcement, made late Monday afternoon, was Airbus's third for the day, after earlier orders by JetBlue and Royal Air Maroc for narrowbodies.
Forgeard said that Monday's orders put Airbus's book for the year at 188, and said that by the end of the week, the company will have announced enough orders to drive its book over 300 for 2001. At least one of those aircraft orders will include the A380. Forgeard alluded to a press conference today involving a major cargo carrier.
By Jim Proulx "