Why The Airbus A220 Will Be A Big Win For Air France

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In an interview yesterday, Air France CEO Anna Rigail confirmed that the airline remains on track to receive its first A220 in September. Aside from just modernizing the fleet, the A220 offers a host of efficiency and environmental benefits for the airline, a new top priority globally. Here’s why the A220 will be a big win for Air France.

The A220s will replace Air France’s aging A318 and A319 fleets in the coming years. Photo: Simple Flying

First

Air France has 60 Airbus A220-300s on order to replace its existing short- and medium-haul fleets. This means the aircraft will be deployed on key domestic and European routes primarily. However, the A220’s long range means that Air France could opt to send it further in the future, as several other airlines have done.

However, the A220’s benefits do not just lie in its range and capacity, but also its environmental factors. In an interview with CAPA Live, CEO Anna Rigail explained how the A220 would benefit the airline’s goal of reaching net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050 for all European flights and the airline’s commitment to its order, saying,

“We protected our investment on the fleet. With the crisis we had to decrease our investement by one billion [euros] per year but we really focused everything on the replacement or renewal of the fleet…The first service A220 will come in September 2021 and this, of course, is decreasing the CO2 emission by 20 to 25% compared to the cost they replace.”

Air France A220
The A220 will reduce CO2 emissions by 20-25% compared to similar aircraft, a key step for Air France to reach its sustainability goals. Photo: Air France

However, Air France is not only pursuing the A220 for the critical benefits but also to meet conditions set by European lawmakers. This includes environment goals that have to be met under Air France’s critical €7bn ($8.3bn) bailout from the French government and sanctioned by the EU.

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Where will it fly?

Considering that Air France is striving to reach net-zero CO2 emissions in Europe by 2050, the A220’s early focus will be within the continent. This means nearly all short-haul routes will be taken over from the A318 and A319 and given to the newcomer. This would include flights to London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Rome, Milan, and dozens of others.

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While the A220’s range would easily allow for medium-haul routes to the Middle East and much of Africa, it’s unlikely the airline would deploy the aircraft that far, for now. However, if demand for longer and thinner routes arises in the future, Air France does have the plane for the job.

The A220’s range opens up routes as far as the Middle East and Central Africa if needed. Photo: GCMap

The benefits for Air France with the A220 are immense. The carrier will be able to retire its nearly 15 to 20-year-old A318 and A319s and replace them with a higher capacity, longer range, and fuel-efficient alternative. Moreover, the lower emissions will allow Air France to become more sustainable, a key issue for the aviation industry moving forward.

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The A220 has also proven to be the right aircraft for the post-pandemic future, seeing its activity remain high in the last year. Overall, Air France is looking at a big win with its upcoming A220 fleet.

What do you think about Air France’s A220 order? Let us know in the comments!

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