Air France is to go ahead with deploying its Airbus A380 aircraft on the Paris-London sector, in order to avoid parking the aircraft unused for long periods in France.
The carrier's summer schedule shows that its daily AF995 service from Johannesburg arrives in Paris Charles de Gaulle at 06:05, but does not depart again as AF990 until 23:20.
This means the 538-seat aircraft would remain idle in Paris for nearly 18 hours, and Air France believes it can capitalise on the downtime by offering a high-capacity link to London.
"A very early arrival in Paris and a late departure in the evening leaves the aircraft available during the day to operate the Paris-London-Paris route, in between two long-haul flights," says a spokeswoman for Air France.
It states that the flight, designated AF1980/1981 will be available between 12 June and 30 August. The service will depart Paris at 10:05 and arrive back in the French capital at 15:05, slotting between the South African sectors.
Air France is selling business-class and economy-class fares on the route, although it has not listed a first-class option.
The airline usually uses Airbus A320-family aircraft on the Paris-London route but the carrier also offers a turboprop link with ATR 72s.
"The crew of the A380 operating between Paris and London are fully qualified to fly on this type of aircraft and have all flown the A380 between Paris, Johannesburg and New York," the spokeswoman adds. Air France uses the A380 for a daily New York JFK flight.
Air France, which has three A380s, is to introduce a fourth in the second half of this year, and deploy it on the Tokyo Narita route.