KLM Begins To Think About Retiring Its Airbus A330s

K.L.M. Royal Dutch Airlines has started to make decisions on the future of its Airbus A330 fleet. The flag carrier of the Netherlands will be retiring the aircraft type in the next few years.

KLM Airbus A330
KLM will be parting ways with the Airbus A330. Photo: KLM

Fleet reshuffle

Luchtvaart Nieuws reports that the airline wants to only use Boeing 777s and Boeing 787 Dreamliners for long-haul operations. This is because the carrier’s parent company, Air France-KLM wants to increase efficiency within the group’s operations.

With the move, Air France has planned to phase out other Airbus airliners. The firm’s A340s and A380s will be gradually dropped, while the A320 range will be replaced by the new A220. Furthermore, Air France made a recent announcement that it would take on all of KLM’s orders for Airbus A350-900s.


The dropping of KLM’s A330 aircraft was reported for some time but now KLM has finally confirmed the news during the Air France-KLM Investor Day in Paris. These jets are currently used on KLM flights to Africa, the Middle East, North America, and the Caribbean.

KLM A330
KLM is looking to save money with the fleet restructure. Photo: KLM

Cost-cutting exercise

Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith hopes to save money on pilot training and aircraft maintenance by only flying the B777 and B787 types on long-distance routes. However, KLM still expects to operate other Boeing and Embraer aircraft on short-distance flights.

The 737-700, -800 and -900 will all be operated within the continent. While the Embraer 175, 190 and later the 195-E2 will also be in operation. The proposed partnership between the two manufacturers may benefit Air France-KLM if the European Commission allows it to go ahead.


In addition to the efficiency exercise, the group also consolidated its Joon and HOP! subsidiaries. Joon merged with Air France in June 2019, while HOP! aircraft are currently going through Air France rebranding.

Pieter Elbers, the CEO of solely the KLM wing of the group, has shared that there is no finalized date on when the airline will say goodbye to the A330. Although, he has stated that the range must be phased out by 2025. Additionally, the executive shared that his airline’s 747-400 will be dropped by around 2021.

KLM A330
KLM is looking forward to a strong start in 2020 after 100 years of operations. Photo: KLM

End of an era

According to Planespotters, KLM operates 13 A330s. Eight of these are -200s, while the remaining five are the larger -300s. The first one of these delivered was registration PH-AOA, dubbed Dam – Amsterdam, which arrived in August 2005. The latest of these to arrive was the leased PH-AKF, nicknamed Times Square – New York, which came in December 2014.

The widebody was introduced in 1994 with the now-defunct, French domestic airline Air Inter. Currently, Turkish Airlines is the largest operator of the aircraft type, with 67 A330s in its fleet. The carrier is also expecting one more A330 to arrive in the future.

The fleet overhaul comes at a time when KLM is celebrating 100 years of operations. The oldest active airline in the world will be looking for another era of success and it is taking measures to make sure it is ready for the challenges that the next decade may give.

Simple Flying reached out to KLM for further comment but did not hear back before publication. We will update the article with any further information.

What do you think about KLM’s decision to its Airbus A330s? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.


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john ballekom

Well this move will make KLM even more efficient wide body fleet wise. Within the AFKLM group, its probably good news for the Engineering and Maintainance division at Schiphol too. Sad to hear there wont be any A350s in KLM colours, but romantic notions dont belong in Aviation in 2020…its efficiency cost-cutting and bums on seats that matter these days…congratulations KLM on 100 years and I hope you get to keep your identity and operations with The Group..x

kris o

They call it cost cutting, how when the other parent company is using airbus, why cant KLM move into the A330 NEO fleet then. Im not a believer of all eggs in one basket, look at the airlines who are suffering with the one type B737 max.


Retiring the AIRBUS A330 is pretty sad in the first part. KLM will use the B777 and B787 for a simple reason: Cost-cutting. In favor of the A330 phasing out, they don’t need extra money pouring in for training the A330 pilots, and it could save money for them. Plus if any airlines needed a very good second hand Airbus, this would be perfect for other airlines as well 🙂


May be, it’s risky as well:
Bringing such good maintained low priced aircraft to the market is like teaching monkeys how to climb. In other words it’s creating your own competitor.
But steamling flightdeck lay outs is certainly cost cutting.
Hopefully KLM makes the best of it.

Gerry Stumpe

My sentiments exactly Tom. The A330neo is a perfect fit. No new pilots, minimal retraining etc. I feel that KLM is just being Boeing-friendly.


Quite interesting that they are getting rid of Airbus at KLM but seem happy to operate a subfleet of 787s at Air France


Might be a good time for the Royal Australian Air Force to buy 5 of the A330-200s to convert them into their KC-30A MRTTS. They’re around the same year build, would have had good maintenance etc so a very good opportunity to add to their fleet for a cost of around $1 billion total.

Gerry Stumpe

I am confused. Replacing A330 a/c with Boeing a/c is more cost-effective? How so? The A330neo requires minimal retraining while the Boeing craft is a whole nother setoff. I don’t get it


Gerry, they are dropping the A330 and using 787’s instead, which they already operate. The A330neo has new engines which means training and spares and support.
The 787 is just more of what they already have.

Gordon Mann

KLM should retire its 747 shoddy fleet first.


Not keen on this if it means buying Boeing!


K.L.M. Management seems to be very much “In Bed” with BOEING aircrafts, while in the case of its partner Air France, the latter has a mix of both Boeing and Airbus. Not that AF is better, but as passenger I would like to have a choice, not imposed, but voluntary. I Love flying the A380, but would not waist my resources and patience in an AF380, for reasons well known to the flying public. Qantas, Emirates, any day of the week on the, One and Only A380.