The Air France–KLM Group has just announced that it will place a firm order for 10 A350-900s. This is in addition to the original order made in the summer of 2013. The total order from the Air France-KLM Group for this aircraft type is now at 38. Having received its first Airbus A350 this past September, this additional order must be a clear indication that the airline is satisfied with its performance thus far.
The aircraft was selected to be an “essential pillar in the group’s long-haul fleet modernization strategy”.
“Rationalizing and modernizing the fleet is central to our effort to regain our leading position in Europe. It will strengthen our performance from both an economic and operational standpoint, and will help us deliver on our ambitious sustainability agenda. Offering a 25% reduction in fuel consumption compared to previous generation aircraft, the Airbus A350-900 is a jewel of European expertise and a passenger favorite. We are excited to see it become a core asset of the Air France fleet.” -Benjamin Smith, CEO of Air France-KLM Group.
Going straight to Air France
Although the order was firmed up by the Air France-KLM Group, the KLM side won’t have much to do with this announcement. In fact, the press release issued by Airbus indicates that the A350s are intended to be operated by Air France. This lines up with what happened earlier this year with KLM’s A350 orders going to Air France and some of Air France’s 787 orders going to KLM.
Air France has two A350s in its possession so far. According to Business Traveller, it flies to the following destinations from its hub at Paris Charles de Gaulle:
- Abidjan, Ivory Coast and Bamako, Mali: Operating daily from October 7, 2019, to December 8, 2019, and resuming again on February 10, 2020.
- Toronto, Canada: A daily service that started on October 27, 2019.
- Cairo, Egypt: Six times weekly service, every day except Thursday.
- Seoul, South Korea: A daily service that just started on December 9, 2019.
Great news for Airbus
Designed to go head to head with the Boeing 777, this latest order is more affirmation for Airbus’ newest widebody model. In fact, at the end of November, there were 959 firm orders for A350-family aircraft from 51 customers all over the world.
The A350 also appealed to Emirates as it inked a deal for 50 Airbus A350-900 XWBs at the Dubai Air Show. At list prices, the order is worth around US$16 billion. The Emirates version is set to feature a new premium economy class.
“[Air France-KLM CEO] Ben [Smith] is leading an impressive transformation at Air France-KLM and we feel honoured that our A350 aircraft have been selected as part of this endeavor. We sincerely thank Air France-KLM for the confidence placed in us.” -Guillaume Faury, Airbus Chief Executive Officer
With the commitment of an additional 10 A350-900s, Air France must certainly be satisfied with the two it has been operating so far. The aircraft seems to be a hit among many passengers already.
With Airbus’ press release confirming that the intention is for this order to go to Air France, we’re a little sad that we still won’t get to see an A350 in KLM’s signature blue livery. But who knows, maybe things could change by the time this latest order gets delivered? We can only hope…
Have you flown on the Air France A350 yet? Or do you have plans to? Let us know in the comments!