Air France-KLM has placed a firm order for 60 Airbus A220-300 jets as part of a fleet renewal plan, confirming rumours of the order that have circulated in recent times.

Additionally Air France-KLM has signed for 30 options and 30 acquisition rights, allowing for the gradual replacement of Air France’s ageing Airbus A318 and A319 fleet.

“The acquisition of these brand new A220-300s aligns perfectly with Air France-KLM’s overall fleet modernisation and harmonisation strategy.”

Benjamin Smith, CEO of the Air France-KLM Group

According to Planespotters.net, Air France’s fleet of 18 A318s are at an average age of 14.2 years. Their 33 A319s come in a little older with an average age of 18.2 years.

Powered by the Pratt and Whitney Geared Turbofan engine and featuring the latest in aerodynamic advancements; the Airbus A220, formerly known as the Bombardier CSeries, is a major upgrade in operating efficiency, performance and passenger comfort.

Air France orders Airbus A220, details A380 retirement
Airbus A220-300 unveiling

Air France-KLM notes the Airbus A220-300 is “perfectly adapted” to their network; they will allow for greater efficiency on domestic and European routes, spanning short to medium-haul.

Deliveries of the aircraft are scheduled to begin in September 2021.

With an order book of 551 aircraft, as of the end of June 2019, the A220 has proven to be a great success for Airbus; who remains confident it has the credentials to win the lion’s share of the 100-150 seat aircraft market.

Airbus A380 Retirement

Adding to the significant news around Air France-KLM, the decision to retire 10 Airbus A380s from the Air France fleet by 2022 has been made.

From the Air France-KLM press release:

“The current competitive environment limits the markets in which the A380 can profitably operate.”

Air France orders Airbus A220, details A380 retirement

Compared to newer and more efficient long-haul aircraft. such as the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the A380, with its four engines, consumes 20-25 per cent more fuel per seat.

Paired with an outdated cabin product and the costs associated with refurbishing them, the aircraft no longer makes sense for the Air France fleet. Also in the press release was a note reflecting on Airbus’ decision to terminate the A380 program.

Air France-KLM will now be assessing new aircraft on offer from Airbus and Boeing to replace the super jumbo.

Currently in production now, and soon to enter ground testing, the first Airbus A350 for Air France is on its way. In recent times KLM announced they will not accept any A350s, instead will leave them for Air France and take the 787 orders.

Thoughts

The order for the A220 was greatly expected, thanks, in part, to the large amounts of rumours and discussion held within the aviation community over the last few weeks.

As Europe continues to push for cleaner travel, and with oil prices rising, the decision to push forward with new aircraft is a given.

Although a lot of clarity is still required as to where and how Air France will use the A220s; the order comes as great news for Airbus, who is in the process of ironing out the production of the type.

Regarding replacement of the larger narrow bodies such as the A320s, no announcement has been made; however to maintain commonality, it is likely Air France will go for the A320neo family, unless Boeing comes in with an incredibly good price for the 737 MAX.

Air France orders Airbus A220, details A380 retirement
KLM Boeing 737

Despite this, KLM is a 737 operator so it could just be that Air Frances takes on the A320neo and KLM selects the 737 MAX.

The decision to retire the A380 comes as great sadness for many; however with the market being so competitive, and the costs becoming hard to look at, it was bound to happen soon regardless.

What are your thoughts on Air France-KLM’s fleet news?

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