MIAMI – The Air France-KLM (AF-KLM) group announced today a major order for 100 Airbus A320neo family aircraft and four Airbus A350F Freighters. The narrowbodies are due to fly for KLM (KL) Transavia France (TO) and Transavia Netherlands (HV). However, the A350F will go to Air France (AF).

AF-KLM signed a massive narrowbody order for 100 aircraft of the A320neo family, with purchase rights on 60 more aircraft. The order will be split between A320neos and A321neos. There are no specifics yet as to how many of each type.

First deliveries are expected in the second half of 2023. These aircraft will operate from the airlines’ hub in Paris-Orly (ORY) and Amsterdam (AMS) to European destinations.

The aircraft will renew the medium-haul fleets of KL, but they will also go to the group’s low-cost subsidiary Transavia. The low-cost is divided in two airlines: Transavia France (TO) and Transavia Netherlands (HV). The order will also renew HV and TO fleets. Plus it will expand the fleet of TO, as the Paris-based airline is planning to grow.

The order is a big win for Airbus, as the fleet it replaces is only Boeing 737 aircrafts. Indeed, the medium-haul fleet of KL, TO and HV is made of Boeing 737 only, with the -700, -800 and -900 variants. It would therefore be easier for the airline to order the Boeing 737 max, as it would maintain fleet simplicity.

This is the reason why Boeing was said to have more chance to get the order. When it was announced that the group wanted to renew the fleet, the 737max was the favorite. However, AF-KLM chose to go for Airbus in a similar fashion as Qantas (QF).

The reason could be that AF operates an all-A320ceo medium-haul fleet. Therefore, the type is not entirely new to the fleet, and AF’s maintenance could train the dutch teams.

Four A350F Freighters

Apart from the 100 A320neos, the group also signed a letter of intent for four A350F Full Freighter aircraft, with 4 more purchase rights. This order will go to Air France’s cargo subsidiary, as this order will help the airline increase its cargo capacity.

The A350F is a brand new aircraft, and we do not have a lot of details on it yet. It was launched this summer, as it was approved by its board of directors. We don’t know yet if the type will be based on the -900 or -1000 variant. Nevertheless, we know that it will be an all-cargo aircraft allowing cargo airlines to renew their aging fleet. The aircraft will allow Airbus to be competitive on the cargo market, as it was mainly led by Boeing.

The type is already popular among many airlines. Indeed, the type was already ordered by Air Lease Corporation, CMA-CGM and Singapore Airlines (SQ). We should see it entering service in 2025, and AF plans to be “among the launch operators of the A350F Full Freighter.”

Air France Cargo operates a fleet of two Boeing 777-F today. These aircraft will help the group incrase its cargo capacity. The A350F fits AF perfectly, as the airline already operates 12 of its 38 A35-900 passenger order.

Air France Crago livery on the A350F. Photo: Air France – KLM

AF-KLM Comments

AF-KLM remembers us that “the A320neo family aircraft offer the best performance in their category for the network needs of the Group’s airlines. Compared to previous generation aircraft, they offer a unit cost reduction of more than 10%, as well as a 15% reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Their noise footprint is also 50% lower.”

The group underlines its ecological efforts, as “Fleet renewal is the first lever to cut CO2 emissions, with immediate effect. Alongside the use of sustainable aviation fuels and eco-piloting, it is one of the pillars of the Group’s decarbonization trajectory, which aims for net zero emissions by 2050, and -50% CO2 emissions per passenger/km by 2030, i.e. -15% in absolute terms.”

Ben Smith, the group’s CEO, declared: “This is a major step forward for KLM, Transavia and Air France, which will operate the best aircraft available for their network needs. The outstanding performances of the A320neo family and of the A350F Full-Freighter, which are quieter, more fuel-efficient and more cost-effective aircraft, make them the best choices for the long-term growth of our fleet. They will be instrumental in reaching our ambitious targets, including zero net CO2 emissions by 2050.”

This massive order marks the end of a impressive week for Airbus. As the European planemaker reaches the end of the year, more and more airlines are buying airplanes. Earlier this week, Singapore Airlines (QF) ordered A350F aircraft and QF just ordered 40 narrowbodies from the A320neo and A220 families.

KLM only operates Boeing 737s on its medium-haul routes today. Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways

Featured image: A320neo family aircraft should fly with Transavia and KLM. Photo: Air France – KLM