PARIS, Oct 30, 2009 (AFP) - Air France was due on Friday to become the first European airline to take delivery of the new Airbus A380 superjumbo passenger jet, which it says will make it great savings in tough economic times.
The French flag carrier was due to receive the huge craft at the Airbus plant in the northern German city of Hamburg in a ceremony at 1000 GMT on Friday and then fly it to Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport.
Its first commercial flight is scheduled for November 20, from Paris to New York.
The director of Air France, Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, told AFP that the A380 would enable it to save money by running fewer flights on long-haul routes to destinations.
"To New York, we can remove one Boeing 777-200 and one Airbus A340 and go from five flights a day to four," he said.
"We will be able to use a plane that costs 20 percent less to run than the two others. In other words, we will save 15 million euros a year with an A380."
Air France has ordered 12 of the A380 model, but has postponed the purchase of some of them due to the economic slowdown.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Thursday that an upturn in global air traffic stalled in September due to a "pause" in the economic recovery, with demand only up slightly compared to September 2008.
It has forecast that airlines will lose 11 billion dollars in 2009.
Three other airlines outside Europe have already taken delivery of the 330-million-dollar A380 -- Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Australian carrier Qantas.
by Stephen Collinson
(c) 2009 AFP