Source: Zaref Anderson via aeronauticsonline.com
Air France (AF/AFR) has announced an order for 10 Airbus A350-900 aircraft. This will bring the airline’s total for its A350 fleet to 38, including three already delivered.
Air France will use the aircraft to replace the much larger Airbus A380 superjumbo, as while the A350 is smaller, it offers better fuel efficiency and profits on many routes. Additionally, the airline has reportedly faced major reliability issues with the A380, leading to its early retirement. Because of this order, the airline will retire the A380 by 2022. The order has also allowed the airline to accelerate the retirement of the Airbus A340, which will leave the fleet by the end of 2021. The A340 was once a common sight at Air France, but the aging aircraft’s four-engine design has led many carriers to replace it with more modern and efficient types.
With the new A350s being added to the fleet, Air France will retire its Airbus A380s by the end of 2022. Photo credit: Tim van Donselaar / Aeronautics Online
“The rationalization and modernization of the Air France-KLM fleet is essential to improve its economic and operational performance,” stated Benjamin Smith, CEO of Air France-KLM Group. “The result of Airbus’ European expertise, the A350-900 is a high-performing aircraft at every level and I am happy that Air France can make it one of the jewels in its fleet, to enhance our group’s competitiveness.”
Anne Rigail, CEO of Air France, stated “The first results observed from Air France’s operation of the Airbus A350 are excellent in every way – customer satisfaction, operational performance, and a reduced environmental footprint. With an investment of over one billion euros per year, our fleet modernization is our main lever for meeting our objective to reduce our CO2 emissions by 50% per passenger/km by 2030.”
The A350 comes as part of the airline group’s fleet simplification program, as it works towards having fewer cockpits in its fleet. This reduces costs by reducing the number of pilot groups required. By 2023, the Air France fleet will have just three cockpits: the Airbus A330/A350, the Boeing 777 and the Boeing 787. This comes as KLM recently announced the retirement of its older aircraft, including the Airbus A330s and Boeing 747s, which will bring the Dutch flag carrier down to just two long-haul cockpits.
It is expected that Air France will eventually order more A350s to replace its fleet of aging Airbus A330s, as outlined in our article regarding the future of the Air France fleet. As the carrier works towards having a unified fleet, it will likely order several new A350s and Boeing 777s to help retire older types.
Featured image courtesy of Airways Magazine