It seems Air France is still wholeheartedly committed to taking delivery of the A220 in the autumn of 2021. That’s according to comments made by CEO Ben Smith. The airline has 60 of the type on order, as well as options for the same again.
Air France remains committed to A220 delivery timeline
While many airlines are looking to defer or cancel their orders with manufacturers, it seems that, for now at least, Air France is confident it will maintain its order status with Airbus. As reported in La Tribune this week, CEO Ben Smith has issued assurances that the autumn 2021 date for the first deliveries of the A220 remains unchanged.
Air France ordered 60 Airbus A220-300s in the middle of last year, to much fanfare and excitement. That order was firmed up in mid-December, at which time we were notified that deliveries would begin in the fall of 2021. For the time being, at least, Air France remains committed to that order timeline.
However, its widebody orders could see a change, depending on how the current crisis pans out. Two A350s are scheduled to be delivered in May and June, and it’s likely too late to do anything about that. However, Smith noted that the last 787 and two more A350s which are due to be delivered in the fourth quarter have not yet been decided upon.
The airline will likely want to see how demand for air travel evolves over the course of the year before making a final decision on the delivery of these additional widebodies.
What to expect from Air France’s A220s
While we don’t have details on the cabin layout for the A220, we do know that some things are typical with the aircraft type. Large windows, wide seats, and the compulsory 3-2 layout (with no space to squeeze more in) makes it a massive win for passengers around the world.
Air France has already indicated that its A220s will feature onboard WiFi; a big bonus for short haul travelers in Europe. We say short haul, but with a range of 3,350 nm, it’s possible these aircraft could take on medium to long haul missions too.
Air France didn’t just order 60 of these aircraft. Although 60 is all the airline has firmed up so far, there are also purchase rights/options for a further 60 of the type. Designed to replace its older A318s and A319s, these promise a more comfortable, quieter and more efficient short-haul future for Air France.
A bailout is imminent
It was previously reported that Air France-KLM as a group was losing up to €25m ($27m) a day due to the coronavirus crisis. The group had grounded 90% of its aircraft, and was seeking to secure a bailout from its respective governments in order to weather the storm.
Today, it was announced on MarketWatch that the French government is in the process of finalizing a bailout package for Air France. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told commercial radio station RTL,
“We need to help Air France and we’ll do this in the next few days.”
Details of the aid package may well be revealed later this week, although France is said to be unlocking as much as €20bn ($21.9bn) to support companies affected by the outbreak. If this is the case, all eyes will be on the Dutch government to do their bit for the KLM side of the operation.
Are you excited about Air France’s A220s? Should it defer its additional widebodies for the time being? Let us know in the comments what you think.