Photo: Clément Alloing

MIAMI — The Air France/KLM group has topped up its A350 order by adding 10 more Airbus A350-900s, bringing the total backlog to 38 aircraft.

With three planes already delivered, Air France is well underway to replace its aging fleet of Airbus A340-300s and Boeing 777-200ERs.

Air France took delivery of its first brand new A350-900 in September this year.

Photo: Clément Alloing

The Air France/KLM group is currently undergoing a massive fleet renewal and simplification program, as it tries to reduce its overall operating costs.

By the end of July, Air France ordered 60 A220-300s, as part of its short-haul fleet replacement. It’s one of the largest single orders for the A220 family to date.

The latest order for additional A350s will allow Air France to phase out its remaining A340-300s within the first half of 2021. Air France is also on track to phase out its ten A380s in 2022, the first of which was returned to its lessor last month.

Additionally, in 2021, KLM plans to phase out its last Boeing 747-400, a type that has been with the airline since the early 1970s. KLM was once, one of the largest Boeing 747 operators worldwide.

Benjamin Smith, CEO of Air France/KLM Group said, “The rationalization and modernization of the Air France-KLM fleet are essential to improve its economic and operational performance.”

“The result of Airbus’ European expertise, the A350-900 is a high-performing aircraft at every level and I am happy that Air France can make it one of the jewels in its fleet, to enhance our group’s competitiveness,” Smith said.

Anne Rigail, CEO of Air France also noted that “the first results observed from Air France’s operation of the Airbus A350 are excellent in every way – customer satisfaction, operational performance, and a reduced environmental footprint.”

Rigail added that “with an investment of over one billion euros per year, our fleet modernization is our main lever for meeting our objective to reduce our CO2 emissions by 50% per passenger/km by 2030.”

By 2023, the group aims to operate four widebody types: Airbus A330s, Airbus A350s, Boeing 777s, and Boeing 787s.

Air France will operate most of the Airbus fleet (while keeping its current 43 Boeing 777-300ERs), while KLM will operate most of the Boeing fleet.

It is safe to say, the Air France/KLM group has a bold fleet modernization program.