Air France is set to become the latest operator of the A220, after it signed a Memorandum Of Understanding with Airbus for up to 60 aircraft.
Benjamin Smith, CEO of the Air France-KLM Group said: “The acquisition of these brand new A220-300s aligns perfectly with Air France–KLM’s overall fleet modernisation and harmonisation strategy.”
He added, “This aircraft demonstrates optimum operational and economic efficiency and enables us to further improve our environment footprint thanks to the A220’s low fuel consumption and reduced emissions. It is also perfectly adapted to our domestic and European network and will enable Air France to operate more efficiently on its short and medium-haul routes.”
Airbus’ CEO, Guillaume Faury, described the order as ‘an honour’ for the manufacturer and added that they look forward to delivering ‘the latest technologies, efficiency levels, and environment benefits’ that the Airbus A220 offers to Air France.
As Faury stated himself, the Airbus A220 will support Air France’s ‘fleet renewal plans’. the new order is going to help replace the carrier’s fleet of Airbus A320 family jets, of which Air France has just over 110 in service. As mentioned in an article by La Tribune, which we summarized earlier this month, Air France is likely going to place more orders as it renovates its fleet. This includes an agreement for the Airbus A320Neo to complement the A220s, in addition to the 737 MAX for low cost subsidiary Transavia among others.
Benjamin Smith recently had a change of heart for Air France’s fleet of Airbus A380s. Initially, Smith intended to retire only a handful of the superjumbo’s and refurbish the remainder. However, he has now decided to get rid of all of them, citing high costs and unreliability. This coincides with Airbus’ decision to terminate the A380 program as it was not the success it was predicted to be at the time of launch.
Now, Air France has set the retirement dates for its Airbus A380 fleet. The carrier has 3 A380s which it expects to retire shortly, while the remaining 7 will be fully phased out by 2022 - it currently has 10 in service.
The new order is one of only a few the Air France-KLM Group is expected to announce this year, with others potentially being the Airbus A320Neo, Boeing 737 MAX and possibly the A330Neo and/or the A350-1000. Air France is the country’s biggest carrier, and this new order is a testament to its strength and commitment.