Air France takes delivery of first A380

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Air France has taken delivery of its first Airbus A380, the first European carrier to receive the type.

The aircraft has the highest-density seating arrangement so far selected with 538 seats in three classes.

Registered F-HPJA, the aircraft will make the short delivery flight to Air France's base at Paris Charles de Gaulle today before entering commercial service, on the route to New York JFK, on 23 November.

Accepting delivery, Air France chief Pierre-Henri Gourgeon said the aircraft was arriving at "just the right time".

He describes the jet as a long-term investment "adapted to our network strategy" that looks to develop Paris into a more efficient hub.

It can replace an Airbus A340, with 272 passengers, and a Boeing 777-200, with 264, to give Air France greater efficiency.

By combining the capacity, says Gourgeon, the carrier will cut operating costs by 20% and save €15 million ($22 million) per aircraft annually. "It's our strategic advantage to overcome the downturn," he adds.