Reunion airline Air Austral has become the first African airline to select the Airbus A380 superjumbo to meet its future growth needs.
Airbus says Air Austral has signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the purchase of two A380s in a single-class configuration. In such a configuration, the A380 “will offer unprecedented level of fuel economy, further emphasising the eco-efficient nature of the aircraft”, Airbus says in a statement.
The European aviation giant delivered 12 of the mega-aircraft last year. In the configuration chosen by the St Denis-based airline, the A380 will seat around 840 passengers in what Airbus calls the widest economy class seats available and in the quietest cabin in the sky.
Air Austral plans to operate the A380 through one of its subsidiaries on its high-density route from La Reunion to Paris, France. Le Reunion is an overseas department of France and consists of Reunion proper and neighbouring Rodriguez. The volcanic twin peaks are located between Mauritius and the Indonesian archipelago.
No engine choice has been made at this stage.
“Our vision is to provide a low cost-high quality service on the heavy traffic route between La Reunion and Paris and the A380 allows us to make this vision a reality,” says Gerard Etheve, president of Air Austral.
“The A380 has the lowest cost per seat and is the most environment-friendly aircraft flying today while at the same time providing a high level of passenger comfort. This will enable Air Austral to better connect La Reunion to France at a lower fare”, he adds.
John Leahy, Airbus` chief operating officer for customers, adds: “Air Austral`s selection shows the potential of the A380 in the market of today and tomorrow. The real benefits of ‘doing more with less` now is a reality offered to the market and we congratulate Air Austral on making their vision into a real strategy for this important market segment”.
“Being greener, cleaner, quieter and smarter”, the Airbus release says the “A380 is already setting new standards for air transport and the environment. In addition to offering unequalled levels of passenger comfort, space and quietness in the cabin, the A380 has unmatched levels of operating cost and fuel efficiency, consuming with 840 passengers less than two litres per passenger per 100 kilometres.
“The A380 not only complies with today`s noise limits, it is also significantly quieter than any other large aircraft flying at present. With a range of 8200nm (15 200km), the A380 is the ideal equipment to alleviate traffic congestion at busy airports, while coping with growth. Firm orders for the aircraft stand at 198 from 16 customers.”