The Air France-KLM Group has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for sixty Airbus A220-300 aircraft as part of a fleet modernisation plan for Air France.
Like most of the long-standing European legacy airlines, Air France has found its short-haul network profitability adversely affected by the growth of low-fare airlines. Having already operated a large fleet of Airbus A320 family types, the newer type is likely to replace many of the earlier jets across its European routes. With a slightly lower capacity than the aircraft flown up to now, Air France will have fewer seats to fill using a type with lower operating costs than the aircraft it will replace. That said, a further order for newer versions of the A320 narrow-body might well be yet to come. The French airline will still have to maintain a similar fare structure to other airlines competing with it if it is to regain or keep a viable market share.
Ben Smith, CEO of the Air France-KLM group said: 'The acquisition of these brand new A220-300s aligns perfectly with Air France-KLM’s overall fleet modernisation and harmonisation strategy. This aircraft demonstrates optimum operational and economic efficiency and enables us to further improve our environment footprint thanks to the A220’s low fuel consumption and reduced emissions. It is also perfectly adapted to our domestic and European network and will enable Air France to operate more efficiently on its short and medium-haul routes.'
Air France currently operates a fleet of 144 Airbus aircraft.
According to Airbus, the A220 is the only aircraft purpose-built for the 100-150 seat market and delivers ‘unbeatable fuel efficiency and wide-body passenger comfort in a single aisle aircraft’
Left: The A220 arrival ceremony at the Airbus Delivery Centre (Airbus)
The larger member of the A220's two sub-types – the other is the -100 - the A220-300 was specifically designed and purpose-built for the 120-150 seat market. Airbus say it represents the fusion of performance and technology, allowing airlines to connect distant points on continents or sectors that were previously unprofitable or impossible.
The A220-300’s advanced aerodynamics combined with specifically-designed Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1500G geared turbofan engines, contribute to an aircraft that delivers 20% lower fuel burn per seat than previous generation aircraft, half the noise footprint, and decreased emissions, making it a true community-minded jetliner.
Both members of the A220 Family share commonality in more than 99% of the line-replaceable units (LRUs), as well as the same family of engines – meaning operators can fly both versions and at a significant cost savings. Flight crews with the same pilot type rating, as well as cabin personnel, will enjoy a seamless transition between the A220-300 and A220-100, greatly reducing complexity and training costs.
In addition to delivering best-in-class economics, the A220 cabin was purpose-built to deliver an excellent passenger experience. A220 Family aircraft are recognised for their low noise levels, providing a quiet, comfortable cabin.
Wide seats combined with ample overhead storage, create personal space without compromising on headroom, and the cabin management system provides crews with easy, intuitive control of the aircraft’s interior environment, including entertainment offerings and mood lighting to ensure a delightful passenger experience. Like the A220-100 version, the A220-300’s configurable cabin provides two flex zones, allowing operators to benefit from fully customisable modular cabin elements, including stowage areas and partitions, based on their specific needs.
The A220 has an order book of 551 aircraft as of the end of June 2019 and Airbus believe the type will win the lion’s share of the 100 to 150 seat airliner market, estimated to be some 7,000 aircraft over the next twenty years.