KLM Narrowbody Airbus order
KLM Narrowbody Airbus order

Airbus Beats Boeing on Winning KLM Narrowbody Order + 4 Air France A350 Freighters

Air France-KLM has inked a multi-billion dollar deal with Airbus for up to 160 aircraft to renew the fleets of the group’s subsidiaries.

100 A320neo Family Aircraft for KLM and Transavia

The deal consists of a firm order for 100 A320neo Family (A320neo and A321neo) aircraft plus 60 options. The first deliveries are expected in the second half of 2023.

These aircraft will operate medium-haul routes in Europe, notably from Amsterdam-Schiphol – KLM’s global hub and Transavia Netherlands’ main base, and from Paris-Orly, Transavia France’s main base.

Details of the cabin configuration will be announced at a later date.

a group of airplanes in the sky

Four A350 Freighters for Air France

Air France-KLM also signed a letter of intent for four A350 Freighters plus four options. Air France-KLM would be among the launch operators of the A350F Full Freighter. 

This order would come with full substitution rights to Airbus A350 passenger aircraft, which constitute the new spearhead of the Air France long-haul fleet. The airline currently operates 12 of the 38 aircraft of the type on order.

Benjamin Smith, CEO of the Air France-KLM Group, said: “These evolutionary orders will position our Group airlines on the path to improved performance while accelerating our decarbonization trajectory. This is a major step forward for KLM, Transavia and Air France, which will operate the best aircraft available for their network needs. The outstanding performances of the A320neo family and of the A350F Full-Freighter, which are quieter, more fuel-efficient and more cost-effective aircraft, make them the best choices for the long-term growth of our fleet. They will be instrumental in reaching our ambitious targets, including zero net CO2 emissions by 2050.”

a plane flying in the sky
Air France A350 Cargo

My Thoughts – A321neo is the Key

It is no surprise that Airbus continues to do well with their narrowbody orders, with a full range of airplanes from A220, A320neo and A321neo. With KLM switching to A320neo family on short-haul flights in Europe, we are seeing all the European major carriers using Airbus with the exception of RyanAir.

I see the key to win narrowbody order is having the flexibility of converting to the bigger A321neo, for which Boeing does not offer any such comparable product. Boeing did not go with a clean sheet airplane design, but simply chose to re-engine with the B737 (order pressure from American Airlines and Southwest Airlines).

The A321LR and A321XLR will change the landscape of operating the narrowbody to the 6-8 hours market, yet allow flexibility for airlines to deploy them on short-haul route as needed.