Air France-KLM Has Confirmed Airbus A350 Boeing 787 Swap

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Over two months ago we reported on a rumor that a swap between Air France and KLM aircraft might take place. Now it has been confirmed that the two airlines are trading their existing and ordered airplanes. Air France will receive all of KLM’s A350 orders, while the airline’s remaining 787 orders will be sent to KLM.

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The Air France A350 after visiting the paint shop. Photo:Air France/Airbus

Two airlines, one company

Air France and KLM have been one united group since May 2004: the Air France-KLM Group. With so much existing integration built up over the last 15 years, the swapping of aircraft and aircraft orders is almost as easy as doing it within one airline.

According to FlightGlobal, the chief executive of Air France-KLM Group, Ben Smith, said:

“This is the first step towards harmonising and simplifying the Air FranceKLM Group fleet at its two major airlines,”

Air France says that this move will allow the two airlines to “realise fleet efficiencies through harmonisation and accelerated growth of similar aircraft at both airlines”.

The trade

Here is the quick and simple summary of the swap: Six Air France 787-9s on order will go to KLM and seven KLM A350s (also on order) will go to Air France.

But we can look more closely at the numbers and how it will impact these airlines’ fleets overall:

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  • Air France has nine Boeing 787-9s currently in service and also has a 10th scheduled to arrive in May 2020.
  • Air France will receive its first A350-900 in September 2019 with 20 more on firm order.
  • KLM has seven A350s on order. These will go to Air France, for a total of 28.
  • KLM has 13 787-9s in service and will soon receive its first (of eight) 787-10 (see image below) This makes a total of 21 KLM Dreamliners.
  • The KLM Dreamliner number will increase to 27 because it is taking six from Air France.

Fleet and airline comparison

According to Wikipedia, Air France has a much larger fleet with 207 aircraft in service and 43 on order. KLM is smaller with 119 aircraft in-service and 16 on order.

The fleet size reflects well with passengers handled last year: Air France-KLM reports that Air France and HOP! carried 51.4 million passengers in 2018 while KLM carried 34.2 million passengers over the same period.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this will certainly mean more efficiencies for KLM as it will no longer have any Airbus A350s in its fleet. This is because KLM will no longer have to train its cabin and maintenance crew on the additional aircraft type. However, Air France will still have some 787-9 aircraft in its fleet in addition to its new A350s.

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What do you think about this deal? Most frequent flyers will have an opinion or preference regarding the 787 Dreamliner vs the A350 – the lines and sides will probably be quite similar to the timeless Boeing vs. Airbus debate.

Will this swap change anything about the airlines you choose to fly? Let us know by leaving a comment!

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