Airbus has today announced a firming up of a 60 aircraft order by Air France-KLM. The order was originally announced in July, alongside purchase rights for a further 60. All these aircraft are the larger A220-300 variant and will be operated by Air France.
Air France firms up 60 A220s
Back in July, Air France-KLM announced a huge A220 order, booking in with Airbus for 60 of the larger A220-300 aircraft. As well as this, the airline group flexed its muscles and booked 30 options and 30 acquisition rights of the same aircraft. The 60 being ordered were, in fact, booked in under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
Now, it seems that the airline has firmed up those aircraft. As far as we know, options still remain in place for a further 60 of the type. An Airbus press release confirmed that these aircraft are earmarked to go into service with Air France.
Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer commented in a press release,
“We are glad to see that Air France is endorsing the A220 as a great step towards fleet optimization for large network carriers. The largest Airbus A220 order from a European carrier to date speaks volumes on Air France’s ambitious sustainability drive. The modern and fuel efficient Airbus A220 will contribute to lower fuel burn and CO2 emissions significantly compared to older generation aircraft.
“We thank Air France for the confidence placed in Airbus and for its investment in our latest technology aircraft.”
The fact these are all going to Air France is telling for the future fleets of the two airlines. Increasingly, we’re seeing a division of types between the partners, with Air France now taking all the A350s that would have gone to KLM, and KLM taking all the 787s that had been ordered by Air France.
Now, it seems the short and regional fleet will be split down too. KLM has recently invested in a number of the new Embraer E195-E2 jets for its Cityhopper subsidiary. Air France, it seems, will be leaning on the expertise of Airbus and Bombardier for its fleet requirements.
What about the A220-500?
Previously, it was noted that Air France was studying a stretched version of the A220, dubbed the A220-500 in line with Bombardier’s previous system. Although there’s no news on when, or indeed if, Airbus will look to stretch the type, Air France is not alone in expressing their desire for a larger variant.
Just this week, I reported on an interview with airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss where he stated that his airline would support a modified, larger version of the A220. When the aircraft was still a C-Series, Bombardier had already mapped out the larger version, so on paper at least, it flies.
It’s unlikely that any announcement will be made about an A220 stretch in the near future. However, when and if it does, Airbus is infamous for allowing airlines on its order books to ‘up-gage’ to a larger type. When the A321XLR was announced, several airlines immediately switched pending orders for the A320 and A321 to this new, long-range variant.
Earlier this year, Simple Flying asked Airbus about the A220-500. They told us,
“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.”
Either way, we hope to see Air France exercising its purchase rights for the rest of the 120 plane order soon. More A220s is never a bad thing!