European SkyTeam member Air France has launched Airbus A380 flights to Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport today (2nd September 2013), beating Star Alliance rival Lufthansa as the first European carrier to offer A380 services from Shanghai by 24 days. The flight is currently (as of 8:00 am Bangalore time) in the air as the following screen cap from Flight Aware shows.
Air France plans to operate its A380s, configured with 516 seats in a 4-class configuration (9F / 80J / 38Y+ / 389Y), on three of its fourteen flights per week to Shanghai. Flight schedules for the two daily flights are as follow:
AF 116: Leaves Paris-Charles de Gaulle at 23:20, arrives in Shanghai-Pudong at 16:20 the following day AF 111: Leaves Shanghai-Pudong at 23:20, arrives in Paris-Charles de Gaulle at 5:35 the following day
Flight 116, the red-eye, will have A380 services on three of seven days each week.
Frédéric Gagey, Chairman and CEO of Air France, had this to say about the launch:
The arrival of our superjumbo in Shanghai illustrates Air France’s intention to continue its expansion in China, a strategic and fast-growing region. With the A380, our customers can enjoy an optimum travel experience in all cabin classes, as well as services specially adapted to the Chinese culture
Air France-KLM group has the largest European presence in China amongst European carriers, with 93 flights per week from its two European hubs at Paris and Amsterdam to nine Greater Chinese destinations: Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong,Guangzhou, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Xiamen and Taipei.
Shanghai becomes the sixth A380 destination for Air France, after New York JFK, Washington Dulles, and Los Angeles in the US, Johannesburg in Africa, and Tokyo Narita in Asia. Air France operates a fleet of 8 Airbus A380-800s as part of its passenger fleet of 245 aircraft, used to serve 199 destinations around the globe.