Air France-KLM announced on Monday, September 25, that it would undergo a “large order” of fifty long-haul Airbus A350 aircraft in order to “continue the renewal and rationalization of its fleet”.
This order, accompanied by acquisition rights for forty additional aircraft, represents more than 16 billion dollars (15.1 billion euros) at the list price, never applied due to the discounts granted. Deliveries will take place between 2026 and 2030.
It aims to replace the thirty-three Boeing 777-200s and twenty-six older generation A330s of the two companies. It will concern both A350-900s and A350-1000s, the distribution of which has not been finalized.
“This will be a scalable order, offering the group the flexibility to allocate devices to its different companies based on market dynamics and the local regulatory framework”specifies the Franco-Dutch group in a press release.
These aircraft, capable of carrying up to 410 passengers over 16,000 kilometers depending on the version, allow a 25% reduction in fuel consumption compared to previous generation aircraft and a 40% reduction in their noise footprint.
The A350 “will play a key role in achieving our ambitious decarbonization objectives, including achieving a 30% reduction in CO emissions2 per passenger per kilometer by 2030 »compared to 2019, according to the group’s general manager, Ben Smith, cited in the press release.
The war in Ukraine weighed on the choice of devices
Air France-KLM believes that the ban on Russian airspace since the start of the war in Ukraine will last. This had a role in the selection of the A350 at the expense of the Boeing 787, of which the group operates twenty-five examples, confided Ben Smith during a conference call.
“The Boeing 787-8 and 787-9 have an excellent range but they are smaller; the A350-900 is the same size as the 787-10 but it has the same range as the 787-9 »he explained, saying he had “need bigger planes” available.
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As for the Boeing 777X, which still needs to be certified, “there is no slot available for at least five or six years” but the device will be ” candidate “ for the replacement of the Boeing 777-300 at the end of the decade, estimated Ben Smith.
Air France already operates twenty-two A350-900s and is yet to receive nineteen, while KLM has thirty-three Boeing 787s as the latest generation aircraft. The Franco-Dutch group also has eight A350s in its future freighter version on order. With 99 aircraft eventually, Air France-KLM will be the first A350 operator in the world, said the group’s general director.
In a statement, Airbus said “extremely grateful to the Air France-KLM group for the confidence it continues [de lui] to agree “judging that it was “an important step in [leur] long-standing partnership ». The European aircraft manufacturer and the Franco-Dutch company announced in early September their intention to create a joint venture intended for the maintenance of A350 parts.
Record profitability in the second quarter
Faced with the need to reduce their environmental footprint, to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050 promised by the sector, and with global air traffic expected to double by this time, airlines are engaged in a vast movement to modernize their fleet.
To ensure their future growth, they are striving to reserve available delivery slots as soon as possible with aircraft manufacturers, engaged in ramping up their production after the plunge due to the health crisis.
At the time, Air France-KLM owed its salvation to the intervention of the French and Dutch states. Despite everything, the group continued to invest to preserve its future competitiveness by rationalizing its fleets. In 2019, it ordered sixty medium-haul A220-300s and then one hundred single-aisle A320neo family aircraft to renew and expand the fleets of its KLM and Transavia companies.
On track to regain its pre-crisis capacity next year, Air France-KLM achieved record profitability in the second quarter, achieving a net profit of 604 million euros between April and June, when the group had earned 728 million for the whole of 2022.