Air France to add up to 120 A220s; accelerate A380 phase-out


Air France-KLM has announced its board has reached several strategic decisions regarding its Air France (AF, Paris CDG) subsidiary's future fleet configuration. In a stock market filing, the Franco-Dutch carrier said it had committed to Airbus (AIB, Toulouse Blagnac) to a firm order for sixty A220-300s, with an additional 30 options and 30 purchase rights. The first aircraft should be delivered in September 2021. The group plans to use the A220s to gradually replace Air France's fleet of A318-100s and A319-100s which currently number 18 and 33 respectively. "With a capacity of 150 seats and an operating range of 2,300 nautical miles (4,260 kilometres), 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," it said. Concerning Air France's widebody fleet, the group said it had now decided, in principle, to retire seven of its ten A380-800s by 2022. The group has already indicated that leases on the other three jets will not be renewed on their expiration in 2020. Air France-KLM said the accelerated retirement was necessary given the cost disadvantage the A380 has over other widebody jets. "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," it said. As previously reported, Air France will absorb all of the group's A350 order backlog which currently stands at twenty-one A350-900s destined for the French carrier while KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KL, Amsterdam Schiphol) is due to add seven (although these will be switched to Air France as part of a fleet homogenisation deal in which Air France's B787 order backlog will be switched to its Dutch sister). 


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