Air France to put A380 on Dubai and Johannesburg routes

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SkyTeam partner Air France has identified Dubai and Johannesburg as future Airbus A380 routes after disclosing changes within its winter 2009-10 schedule.

The schedule changes will involve Air France-KLM's cutting capacity by 2% for the season compared with the previous winter.

Air France-KLM says it has reduced long-haul capacity by 1.8% while that for medium-haul operations is down by 2.9% against 2008-09.

The French carrier is to introduce the A380 on its Paris-New York JFK route on 23 November.

But it adds that two other aircraft will join the fleet by March 2010. Air France will initially reduce its Dubai service from 14 to 12 flights per week, and then operate the route daily once the A380 is brought in on 18 January.

Johannesburg will similarly be reduced from 14 to 11 weekly flights, before the arrival of the A380 in early March whereupon the route will be served daily.

Air France says, however, that the overall number of seats on the New York, Dubai and Johannesburg routes will not change because of the switch to the larger aircraft.

But the airline is to "rationalise" services to Latin America and Asia, reducing frequencies to destinations including Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Mexico City. Cuts on the Asian network will include fewer frequencies to Tokyo and Bangalore.

Air France will deploy larger aircraft on its busiest European business routes - such as Amsterdam, Madrid and Rome - in order to trim frequencies. "Some flights outside the main connecting banks will no longer operate," it says.

It will also axe Bordeaux-Brussels, Lyon-Frankfurt and several London City services, including Paris Charles de Gaulle, Strasbourg, Nice and Geneva - although it will operate a twice-daily Nantes route.

Air France is to extend the "downward revision" of domestic route capacity into the winter season. Several routes from Clermont-Ferrand - including Biarritz, Lille, Marseille, Strasbourg and Toulouse - will also be discontinued, in favour of enhancing connections through Lyon.