KLM Delays First A350 Deliveries to 2021

 - August 28, 2018, 11:51 AM
Air France-KLM has earmarked seven of 28 Airbus A350-900s on order to fly with the Dutch flag carrier. (Image: Airbus)

KLM has changed the delivery schedule of its Airbus A350-900s, and the airline now expects to receive its first example in 2021, rather than in 2020. Schedules call for first delivery of Air France A350s with its lower-cost affiliate Joon in autumn 2019.

“We always said we expected our A350s between 2020 and 2022. Last year we said the first one would arrive in 2020, now we expect this to be in 2021,” a spokesman for the Dutch carrier told AIN, confirming a report first published in Up in the Sky. The schedule reflects current plans, he noted, pointing out the airline’s fleet development is a “dynamic process” and KLM continuously reviews and adjusts fleet plans.

To compensate for the later-than-scheduled arrival of the A350-900s, KLM will deploy its Boeing 747-400s for slightly longer. “We anticipate the phase-out of the 747s to finish in 2021, but also this could still change,” the spokesman said.

During the presentation of Air France-KLM group’s first-half results on August 3, CEO and CFO Frédéric Gagey said KLM would operate its Boeing 747s “two more years.”

KLM now flies 12 Boeing 747-400 combis, one fewer than at the end 2017. One more unit is set to leave the fleet in November as part of Air France- KLM’s strategy to gradually replace all its four-engine widebody aircraft with next-generation Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 twinjets. Air France operates six A340-300s and foresees a full retirement of the type by the end of 2020.  

Air France-KLM has placed a firm order with Airbus for 28 A350-900s, of which it has earmarked only seven for KLM. Air France expects to receive its first A350 in the second half of 2019, a year later than envisioned in 2011, when the Franco-Dutch group placed the order. The first batch of Air France A350s will go to its new lower-cost affiliate, Joon. 

The Franco-Dutch company firmed its order for 25 A350s and options for 25 more in June 2013 after a two-year-long spat with Roll-Royce over third-party maintenance rights of the Trent XWB engines. In February last year, Air France swapped its remaining orders for two Airbus A380 for three of the smaller A350s, lifting its firm order total of the type to 28 with options on 22. Air France-KLM intends to send 10 on firm order to Joon and 11 to Air France.