Air France-KLM has placed a firm order for 60 Airbus A220 narrowbodies in a deal that consummates a memorandum of understanding signed in July, Airbus announced Wednesday. Plans call for the A220s to gradually replace Air France’s Airbus A318s and A319s, of which it now flies 18 and 33 units, respectively. Air France’s medium-haul fleet—excluding regional aircraft—consists of only Airbus aircraft; in addition to the A318 and A319s, it also flies 20 A321s and 43 A320s. In contrast, its Dutch sibling KLM and the group’s low-cost carrier, Transavia, both deploy a Boeing 737 fleet on their medium-haul services.
Schedules call for Air France to take delivery of its first A220 in September 2021.
“We are glad to see Air France is endorsing the A220 as a great step toward fleet optimization for large network carriers,” said Airbus chief commercial officer Christian Scherer. “The largest A220 order from a European carrier to date speaks volumes on Air France’s ambitious sustainability drive.”
The order comes amid a fleet transformation at Air France that will see the retirement of its 10 A380s by 2022. The airline last year approved the removal of three examples, but the Air France-KLM board in July decided to totally exit A380 operations because the competitive environment limits the markets in which the double-deck widebody can profitably operate. The A220 order and the decision to abandon the A380 support Air France-KLM Group's strategy centered on a recent order swap of A350s and Boeing 787s between Air France and KLM.
On December 11 Air France-KLM approved an order for 10 Airbus A350-900s as part of a long-haul fleet simplification strategy that will see it replace its A380s. Plans call for the Air France long-haul fleet to consist of 116 aircraft split among only four families: the Airbus A330 and A350 and Boeing 787 and 777. Those airplanes' arrival will also allow the company to accelerate the departure of its Airbus A340s during the first quarter of 2021.