The Air France-KLM group is today holding its 2019 investors day. Here the group announced that Air France could order the Airbus “A220-500” in the future. This would be used to develop its medium-haul fleet.
In July, Air France announced a huge order for the Airbus A220. The airline committed to a firm order for 60 Airbus A220-300 aircraft. However, the order didn’t stop there. In addition, the airline placed options for a further 30 aircraft, as well as acquisition rights for 30 more. However, Air France could take more than just the A220-300, as the airline today confirmed to Simple Flying that it would examine any stretched Airbus A220 models offered.
Future narrowbody fleet
So far, details are fairly sketchy, coming from a single slide in the Air France-KLM investor day presentation. The slide mentions how the airline currently operates nine different cockpits. However, it wants to optimize its future fleet to consist of five to seven cockpits.
Currently, the airline operates 114 narrowbody aircraft ranging from the Airbus A318 to the Airbus A321. This excludes regional aircraft. Heading into the future, this will change to around 60 Airbus A320 aircraft, in addition to 60 Airbus A220s. This will give a total fleet of 110-115.
What about the Airbus A220-500?
Air France has listed its future Airbus A220 options on its presentation slide too. However, this is where it gets interesting. The orders and options for the A220 have been listed as “A220-300 -500(?)”. This suggests that the airline’s future options for the aircraft could convert to a stretched -500 version of the aircraft.
When speaking with Air France, a representative of the airline told Simple Flying:
“Airbus has the technical possibility, in the future, to stretch the A220-300 with a larger capacity aircraft. If this were the case, we would examine this option for the future development of the Medium-haul fleet (post 2025)”
Will the Airbus A220-500 become a reality?
Airbus has yet to confirm an Airbus A220 stretch such as the A200-500. As such, it is impossible to say that such an aircraft will be made. However, if the European plane manufacturer sees sufficient demand, it will likely go ahead with the project.
A large airline group such as Air France-KLM will be in constant discussions with manufacturers such as Airbus. Additionally, it is unlikely that they would mention an aircraft in their annual investor presentation if they didn’t think there was a realistic possibility of it becoming an option. While the aircraft has not been confirmed, Air France confirmed to Simple Flying that they would examine the aircraft should it become a reality.
At the Paris Air Show, the aircraft manufacturer issued the following comment regarding the Airbus A220-500: “In the next 12 months, Airbus will not launch the A220-500. Before embarking on expansion projects of the A220 family, Airbus must first solve its productivity problems.”
EDIT: An Airbus representative offered the following statement:
“As a leading aircraft manufacturer, we are in constant dialogue with our customers and constantly looking at potential ways of improving our products. However, not all studies see the light of day. We are focused on ramping-up and selling our current aircraft models, the -100 and the -300. The platform has the potential to grow but we are focused on ramping-up the programme and supporting our new customers’ entry-into-service. In the long-term, the platform would evolve according to the Airbus product policy. We have no further comment on our product policy.”
Do you think we could see Airbus launching an A220-500? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!