KLM Is In Discussions About Early Airbus A330 Retirement


KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is in discussions about the early retirement of its Airbus A330 aircraft. Previously the planes were supposed to be retired by 2025, but the current COVID-19 pandemic could see KLM moving these dates forward. According to Dutch website Luchtvaart Nieuws, KLM CEO Pieter Elbers talked about the A330s early retirement in an internal company video.

KLM Airbus A330-200
KLM wants to retire its 13 A330s early. Photo: KLM

Aviation website Planespotters.net lists the Amsterdam-based airline as having 13 Airbus A330s made up of eight Airbus A330-200s with an average age of 13.8 years. The remaining five aircraft are A330-300s that have an average age of 7.9 years.

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KLM wants an all-Boeing long-haul fleet

Last year KLM handed over all of its Airbus A350 orders to Air France and said it would operate a fleet of Boeing 777s and 787s to destinations in the Middle East, Africa, North America, and the Caribbean. The world’s oldest airline thinks that it will save money on pilot training and aircraft maintenance by having an all-Boeing long-haul fleet.

Elbers confirmed to Luchtvaartnieuws.nl that talks were underway with lessors, but it was more complicated than you think saying,

“You have to imagine that those lease companies have about a hundred airlines who knock on the door and say, ‘well, I have some aircraft in return for you.’ That doesn’t just happen.

“So we are talking about it. We are looking into it, but going forward, we will be using the Airbuses a bit more.”

This is evident because 12 of the Airbus A330s are back in service and that only PH-AON remains parked.

KLM A330-300
The A330s could leave the fleet early. Photo: KLM

Airlines need to collaborate and consolidate

In other KLM news, when speaking about how global aviation would recover from the current COVID-19 medical emergency at the recent World Aviation Festival, KLM CEO Pieter Elbers said that two things needed to happen. First would be more airlines collaborating and, secondly, a consolidation of the airline industry. Simple Flying Editor, Joanna Bailey quotes Elbers as saying,

“Every big crisis in the industry so far has led to further consolidation. So, my view COVID-19 would also lead to further consolidation in the industry. The massive recovery trajectory will also require more collaboration between various carriers in order to make sure that we optimize our assets.”

KLM Airbus A330
KLM is in a partnership with Air France. Photo: KLM

One crisis in particular that Elbers might refer to was the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001 in which planes were used to fly into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Following the attacks, people refused to fly, and airlines had to consolidate to survive. As time went by, new airlines emerged, and everything was better than before.

COVID-19 has dealt a tough blow to airlines who do not receive government support. State carriers like Qatar Airways, Emirates, and Etihad do not have to worry, but private companies like Cathay Pacific, Norwegian, and Virgin Atlantic could be at risk of disappearing.

Airlines want new modern aircraft

You can understand why airlines are looking to get rid of older planes for newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft. As Elbers said, KLM is not the only airline talking to lessors right now, making doing a deal all that more difficult.

KLM 787 Dreamliner
KLM wants an all-Boeing long-haul fleet. Photo: KLM

Do you think that KLM will retire its A330s before 2022, or will it be more like the 2025 deadline they discussed previously? Please let us know what you think in the comments