One of Air France's biggest problems has been its high
maintenance costs, associated with the operation of
so many different aircraft types. There never seemed
to be coherence in their aircraft fleet planning. That
is slowly changing and for the better.
At one point AF had the 747-100, 200, 300, 400,
B767-300, B777, A340, A319, A320, A321, A310,
A300, B737-200, B737-500....what a mess!!!!!!!!
After all, it is Europe's third biggest airline and is
overall operating a fleet of about 200 aircraft so
it is hard to understand what they were doing!
Now things are changing. AF has realized the
value and oustanding operational performance
of the B777 vs. the A340 and the order for the
777-300 is an indication that rationalization is
in and deference to Airbus Industrie is out, at
least in the long-haul category.
I am one of those naysayers who thinks the
A3XX won't fly so I am discounting it from
my argument here.
The A320 family are very well suited for AF
short- and medium- haul operations and in
my opinion, they should continue to build
the fleet around the A320 family.
The 747-400 is exceptional for high-capacity
long haul flights and operating alongside the
777-200 and from 2003, the 777-300 is a
very clever strategy. The 767-300 or some
767-400's would be my pick over the A330
for maintenance and overall streamlining,
but that's just my opinion. The 767's were
acquired with UTA and my understanding
is that they will be out of the fleet in the
next few years anyway.
Now, if we could just get them to get rid
of those A340's! I don't think the A340 is
a bad plane at all. A little underpowered,
but a good, solid airliner and a money-
maker. The problem is that I don't think
it fits well in a 747/777 fleet.
Now, don't let this start a Boeing vs.
Airbus war or something stupid and
childish like that. I think both aircraft
makers produce fine products and it
is good to have competition. It keeps
both on their toes and the develop-
ment teams hard at work.