Air France-KLM Group is taking more Airbus A350-900 and A350F aircraft, turning options into firm orders. The A350Fs will join Martinair to replace the Boeing 747Fs. On the other hand, still nothing on the A350-1000. A big weakness for the Boeing 777-9 ?
Airbus A350F: four options taken in April 2022
Air France KLM has just turned options taken in April 2022 into firm orders for additional Airbus A350Fs. In December 2021, the French-Dutch group had signed a letter of intent for four Airbus A350Fs with four options for additional aircraft. The letter of intent was transformed into a firm contract in April 2022. The four additional Airbus A350Fs will be based in Amsterdam and operated by Martinair on behalf of KLM Cargo. They will replace the four Boeing 747Fs.
Aircraft reception from 2026
Martinair and Air France Cargo will begin taking delivery of their first Airbus A350Fs simultaneously in the first half of 2026. However, no timetable has been specified for the three Airbus A350-900s that Air France KLM has also ordered, bringing its long-haul purchases to 41 for Air France alone. By the end of December 2022, the group had 38 Airbus A350-900s on order, 20 of which have been delivered.
Still no Airbus A350-1000?
When it placed its very first order for the Airbus A350XWB, the Air France KLM group took options that could be converted to the A350-1000. Clearly, the group still hasn't taken the plunge, preferring for now to bank on the A350-900 and A350F. Of course, the Covid 19 pandemic and its catastrophic effects have logically shaken up many initial fleet plans within airlines. Possible that the A350-1000 will come back on the table in a while, once long-haul traffic finally returns to normal, and then returns to growth rates compared to 2019.
A soft spot for the Boeing 777-9?
Unless this radio silence on the Airbus A350-1000 is simply a translation of a small, or even a big soft spot for the Boeing 777-9. Air France KLM is one of the largest operators of Boeing 777-300ERs in the world, and it is clear that the issue of their gradual replacement is in the fleet plans. And in addition, the Boeing 777-9 timetable, of first aircraft available at the end of 2024, or even early 2025 (according to Emirates/ndlr), suits the Franco-Dutch group perfectly, which must first finish repaying in full the loan advanced by the French state, before it can officially cross, not the Rubicon, but the Seine, in favor of the Boeing 777-9.
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