The Air France-KLM Board of Directors approved several strategic decisions concerning the development of the Air France fleet, following a meeting on July 30, 2019.
These decisions reflect the Group's focus on simplification. Making the fleet more competitive, by continuing its transformation with more modern, high-performance aircraft with a significantly reduced environmental footprint is key to achieving leading industry margins.
Above - KLM's first Boeing 787-10 arrives at Amsterdam Schipol in June 2019 (Paul Ridderhof/KLM)
Firm order for 60 A220-300s, with 30 options and 30 acquisition rights, which will gradually replace Air France's A318 and A319 fleet
Retirement of the 10 A380s from the Air France fleet by 2022, and study of the replacement of A380s by new generation aircraft
The two airlines are also pursuing the optimisation of their respective long-haul fleets. The carriers will effectively swap the remaining firm Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 orders between them, in order to realise fleet efficiencies through harmonisation and accelerated growth of similar aircraft at both airlines. The implementation of the swap between the airlines means that in the 2021-2023 time frame, the 6 remaining Boeing 787s ordered for Air France will be transferred to KLM, and the current 7 Airbus A350-900s on order for KLM will be transferred to Air France.
Today, Air France operates 9 Boeing 787-9s and one additional aircraft is scheduled to arrive in May 2020, resulting in a fleet of 10 Boeing 787-9s for Air France next year. In addition, Air France will receive its first Airbus A350-900 in September 2019. It has already an additional 20 on firm order to which will be added the 7 A350-900s initially intended for KLM, for a total of 28 aircraft.
Above - Air France's first A350 is due in September 2019 (Airbus)
KLM presently operates 13 Boeing 787-9s and received its first Boeing 787-10 in June 2019. This fleet will further grow to a total of 21 Boeing 787s by the end of 2020 to which will be added the 6 Boeing 787s initially intended for Air France for a total of 27 aircraft. Options for further fleet development at Air France within the Air France-KLM group is currently under study, in consultancy with all stakeholders.
"This is the first step towards harmonizing and simplifying the Air France-KLM Group fleet at its two major airlines", declared Benjamin Smith, CEO Air France-KLM.
Pieter Elbers, President & CEO of KLM, added: “Both Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350 are excellent aircraft. From a fleet management perspective, optimising the number of different aircraft types KLM operates is very important for our operational efficiency and productivity. That is why KLM is happy to be able to expand the 787 fleet via this order swap. With these additional B787-10s, KLM will be ready to further develop its route network bringing in the next few years the total B787’s for KLM to 28 (13x B787-9 and 15x B787).”
Renewal of Air France's short- and medium-haul fleet
Air France has committed to a firm order of 60 Airbus A220-300 aircraft, with an additional 30 purchase options and 30 acquisition rights. The first aircraft should be delivered in September 2021. They will join Air France's short- and medium-haul fleet.
This aircraft will enable Air France to reduce its environmental footprint. The A220-300 generates 20% less CO2 emissions than comparable aircraft in its class, and is twice as quiet.
With a capacity of 149 seats and an operating range of 2,300 nautical miles, the A220-300 is perfectly suited to replace the A318 and A319 on the Air France short- and medium-haul network. This aircraft will allow the company to increase its competitiveness by reducing its cost per seat by more than 10% compared to the aircraft it will replace.
Its entry into the Air France fleet will contribute to the continuous improvement of the customer experience, thanks to seats offering more space, larger cabin baggage storage compartments, wide aisles and WiFi on board.
Retirement of the A380s from the Air France fleet by 2022
Above - going; the Airbus A380 from service (Air France)
The Air France-KLM Board of Directors have approved the retirement in principle of the remaining seven A380s from the Air France fleet by 2022, the phase out of three additional aircraft having been decided previously. Five of these aircraft are owned by the company, while two are leased.
The current competitive environment limits the markets in which the A380 can profitably operate. With four engines, the A380 consumes 20-25% more fuel per seat than new generation long-haul aircraft, and therefore emits more CO2. Increasing aircraft maintenance costs, as well as necessary cabin refurbishments to meet customer expectations reduce the economic attractiveness of Air France's A380s even further. Keeping this aircraft in the fleet would involve significant costs, while the aircraft programme was suspended by Airbus earlier in 2019.
The Air France KLM Group is studying possible replacement options for these aircraft with new generation aircraft currently on the market.
"These decisions support the Air France-KLM Group's fleet competitiveness strategy," said Smith. "They follow the recent orders for A350s and Boeing 787s that Air France and KLM have placed. We are very pleased to work with Airbus to add the A220-300 to our fleet, an aircraft that demonstrates optimum environmental, operational, and economic efficiency. The selection of the Airbus A220-300 supports our goal of a more sustainable operation, by significantly reducing CO2 and noise emissions. This aircraft will also provide our customers with additional comfort on the short- and medium-haul network and will provide our pilots with a connected cockpit with access to the latest navigation technology. This is a very important next step in Air France's transformation, and this evolution in Air France's fleet underlines the Group's determination to attain European airline leadership.”
Above - KLM will receive Boeing 787s originally intended for Air France (Paul Ridderhof/KLM), while the French carrier will get A350s that were destined for KLM.
Air France-KLM operates a fleet of 541 aircraft between its three main brands, Air France, KLM, and Transavia, to 318 destinations globally. In 2018, AF-KL flew over 100 million customers.