KLM to Deploy Its First Boeing 787-10 to East Africa

 - July 1, 2019, 1:17 PM
The first KLM Boeing 787-10 arrives in Amsterdam on June 30. (Photo: Paul Ridderhof)

KLM will introduce its first Boeing 787-10 on Tuesday on services from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Kilimanjaro and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Powered by General Electric GEnx engines, the aircraft carries registration PH-BKA (msn 42485) and features a special livery to mark KLM’s centenary—though it missed the opening ceremony of the Dutch flag carrier's 100th-year celebrations on Saturday as it arrived one day late due to an unspecified documentation/ certification issue. KLM already operates 13 smaller 787-9s.

KLM becomes the first airline in Europe and the sixth operator in the world to receive the largest variant of the 787, after launch customer Singapore Airlines, Etihad Airways, United Airlines, All Nippon Airways, and EVA Air. Singapore accepted its first 787-10 in March 2018 and now flies 12.

The Dutch carrier plans to receive 15 of the largest Dreamliner, up from an initial eight, following a top-up order announced during the Paris Air Show for one unit on lease from Air Lease Corp and an order exchange with its French counterpart, Air France. Under the order swap, announced by Air France-KLM Group late last week, KLM will transfer the totality of its Airbus order for seven A350-900s to Air France, while Air France transfers outstanding orders for six 787s to KLM. The swap applies to deliveries scheduled between 2021 and 2023 and aims to “realize fleet efficiencies through harmonization and accelerated growth of similar aircraft at both airlines,” the Franco-Dutch group explained.

Currently, Air France operates nine 787-9s and expects one more aircraft to arrive in May 2020, resulting in a fleet of ten 787-9s for the French flag carrier next year. Air France will receive its first Airbus A350-900 in September. It holds an additional 20 on firm order, to which will join another seven A350-900s initially intended for KLM, for a total of 28 aircraft. KLM will fly an equal number of 787s—thirteen 787-9s and fifteen 787s—noted KLM president and CEO Pieter Elbers, who stressed that his airline is “happy to be able to expand the 787 fleet” via the order swap. “Both the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350 are excellent aircraft,” he said. “From a fleet management perspective, optimizing the number of different aircraft types KLM operates is very important for our operational efficiency and productivity.” KLM’s widebody fleet includes A330-200/300s, Boeing 777-200ER/300ERs and 747s. 

Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith characterized the 787/A350 swap as the “first step towards harmonizing and simplifying the Air France-KLM Group fleet at its two major airlines.” He did not disclose details, but the company said in a statement that “options for further fleet development at Air France within the Air France-KLM group is currently under study, in consultancy with all stakeholders.”