Air France operates 70 Boeing 777’s, 27 200’s and 43 300’s. The average age of the 300’s is barely 8.8 years with the last one only delivered in April 2016 as part of a ten-year programme. 18 are leased and the rest owned outright. From late 2009, as the global recession grabbed us all by the balls, First Class was dropped from the specification of some, or reduced to just 4 seats. This aircraft is one of those. She’s also only one of 4 wearing the full Skyteam livery.
And that’s why I wanted this model. I do have a now scrapped-in-real-life AF A320 in Skyteam livery, but this is the only large aircraft, as I have more than a few Oneworld and a couple of Star Alliance, it’s long overdue. I’m well aware that there are fans of alliance liveries, and those who just as adamantly hate them.
It’s common practice that as part of any alliance agreement a percentage of aircraft should be in the alliance livery, which is why these are as they are.
Being Apollo, which is basically Witty Wings with a different name – and nobody has ever been able to tell me why they used both brands, though it may have something to do with dodging tax payments that brought the company down, it’s a pretty amazing model. It was available at a ludicrously low price, so I grabbed it while I could.
Leased from LCI on delivery in 2009, F-GZNE is equipped with 4 first class, 58 business, 28 premium economy, and 206 economy, one of four different layouts used by the airline on 773’s alone. Some have no business class but as many as 422 economy, yet still include 28 premium and 14 first class. These versions tend to operate DOMTOM routes – long haul domestic, to French Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific territories classed as part of mainland France (just as Hawaii or Guam is to the US).
This aircraft is used mostly on high density major city pairs, such as New York, Tokyo, LAX, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Skyteam is of course, the second largest of the alliances, though arguably one that brings its members least benefits. It’s not as rigorous in its use of loyalty programme cross feeds (although it wouldn’t agree with that), and not all airlines integrate as well as others. Whereas on Star Alliance (run with Lufthansa’s German efficiencies), you’ll be able to book a through ticket on almost any airline on its network, that’s not always as straight forward on Skyteam unless some kind of joint venture has been agreed, even though, again Skyteam would disagree. However you can be pretty sure your luggage will check straight through!
The Witty mould on these was truly excellent, no aerials, not that I mind that, but plenty of superbly detailed technical print and a general finish that even now is hard to match.
The quality of the paint – especially the primary silver, is just extraordinary. The unity and completeness of the finish is exceptional, and the Skyteam calligraphic flourish at the rear looks precise and flawless.
Once again, another superb example of how well models can be made when manufacturers seem to care.
2.Wings and landing gear
Excellent moulds, though I’d say a little over painted, but not to the degree Phoenix do, The paint is a bit glossy, but its typical of the period.
Leading edges are the right type of silver finish and it has the over-wing escape markings along with to thick black bars on the upper wing.
Witty were always generous with their landing gear, choosing a high quality set that had a full set of rotating wheels and the bogies also tilted, but not to the point of being flaccid.
Superb see-through high bypass fans, quality finish on the rims and exhausts with neat finish and markings on the nacelles. A highlight of excellence. And to think we’re about to get these from Phoenix!
The nose is excellent and includes the white nose dome. Metallic paints can’t be used on radome as it interferes with the signal.
Skyteam logos, along with AirFrance current logo are all present and correct.
The black vertical stabilizer has the Skyteam logo at the top, just as it does on the real thing, excellently represented and finished.
The rest of the tail is the usual high-quality fit and finish we’d expect from an Apollo/Witty model.
The silver, which is the key colour, being metallic is an exemplary match, in the right light. It really isn’t easy to match this type of paint, but here its excellent. The blue-black shows blue in strong sunlight, but looks more black in shaded areas. Overall it’s pretty good.
7.Score and conclusions
It’s a special, accurate and lovingly produced model without a serious flaw or failing. Just another reminder as to how good Witty models were in their day, and how such quality is so hard to find now.
A splendid model and no mistake, a delight to have at the new Leonard Nimoy International Airport – when it opens!
My recommendation: Many Witty and Apollo models lurk in dealer “other” categories on their websites – it might be worth you looking them up, and they’ve often had them so long that you can ask for a good discount even if they still show a high price. Most dealers would be glad to get rid of them, it’s just money tied up to them, and by now they’re long written off against tax and profits.