MIAMI — Air France (AF) has announced both an all-new order for 60 Airbus A220-300s as well as the retirement dates for its Airbus A380 fleet.

The airline’s order for the A220-300s includes 30 confirmed units and 30 options, with deliveries scheduled to take place by September 2021.

Photo: Airbus S.A.S 2019

Airways understands that these new aircraft will replace both the A318 and A319 aircraft in the airline’s fleet, which are 14.2 and 18.2 years old on average, respectively.

The A220s will carry 150 passengers on journeys as long as 2,300 nautical miles.

In a statement, the airline’s CEO, Benjamin Smith, declared that “the selection of the Airbus A220-300 supports our goal of a more sustainable operation, by significantly reducing CO2 and noise emissions.”

Photo: Alf van Beem

“This aircraft will also provide our customers with additional comfort on the short- and medium-haul network and will provide our pilots with a connected cockpit with access to the latest navigation technology,” he added.

This news is quite positive for Air France and its staff. In May, the airline announced the lay-off 465 domestic ground staff and the reduction of 15% from its short-haul capacity. The decision comes following the airline’s new goals to cope with the competitive nature of the transport industry in Europe.

The airline expects to trim its regional network by as much as 15% by 2021, also noting that, from now on, “there will be no forced departures.”

The Twilight Of The French A380

With three ‘Super’ A380 planes already set to be retired soon, the airline’s final seven double-deckers will be phased out in 2022.

Back in November, Airways published a story in which Air France was looking to reduce the number of Airbus A380s in its fleet by returning at least five of the 10 double-deckers to its lessors by the end of 2019, following an audit led by the airline’s new CEO, Benjamin Smith.

The results of the audit revealed that the plane had become too expensive to run, especially when compared to the Boeing 777-300(ER)s that the airline deploys on similar missions.

Today, five of the seven remaining planes are owned by Air France, with the other two currently on lease.

“These decisions support the Air France-KLM Group’s fleet competitiveness strategy,” said Benjamin Smith, CEO of the Air France-KLM Group. 

Photo: Jakkrit Prasertwit

“They follow the recent orders for A350s and Boeing 787s that Air France and KLM have placed. We are very pleased to work with Airbus to add the A220-300 to our fleet, an aircraft that demonstrates optimum environmental, operational, and economic efficiency,” he added.

“This is a very important next step in Air France’s transformation, and this evolution in Air France’s fleet underlines the Group’s determination to attain European airline leadership”, the CEO concluded.

Air France also added that it is looking at “suitable replacements” for the A380. It had been rumored that the airline was going to place a major order during this year’s Paris Air Show.

However, once the show ended, the carrier opted to send all its Boeing 787 Dreamliner orders to KLM, whereas Air France will keep all Airbus A350s.

The exodus of the Airbus A380 continues, with other operators already scheduling retirement dates, whether it is the next few years or whether it is by the end of next decade.

For Air France, the A220 order will no doubt help out it’s short and medium-haul network, as well as expanding it potentially down the line.

It could also open up for brand new routes under the network to smaller fields due to the A220’s short runway and longer range capabilities.

This order represents another stage in the carrier’s action not just to save money as the volatile industry rolls on, but also to boost external network portfolios and revenues in the long-term.