Air France boosts Airbus A350 orders to replace A380s, A340s
Air France has ordered another 10 Airbus A350-900s to replace the Airbus A340 and A380 wide-bodies that it will retire over the next three years.
The deal brings the Paris-based carrier's commitments for the A350 to 38, including three already in its fleet, Air France said Wednesday. The airline configures its A350s with 324 seats, including 34 in business class, 24 in premium economy, and 266 in economy.
The order will allow Air France to remove the four remaining A340s in its fleet by the first quarter of 2021, and its 10 A380s by year-end 2022. At that point, the airline will operate just four wide-body families: the Airbus A330 and A350 and the Boeing 777 and 787.
“The rationalization and modernization of the Air France-KLM fleet is essential to improve its economic and operational performance,” Benjamin Smith, CEO of Air France-KLM, said in a statement. A 25% reduction in fuel burn compared to previous generation aircraft was cited among economic benefits.
In July, Smith said Air France was in negotiations with Airbus and Boeing over an order for either the A330-900, A350-900 or 787-9 as a replacement for its A340s and A380s. The A350 was widely viewed as having a leg up due to the airline's existing orders for the type, and the group's earlier decision to consolidate its A350s at Air France and 787s at KLM.
Air France took delivery of its first A350 in September, and began passenger flights in October. The airline is flying the jet to Cairo (CAI), Seoul Incheon (ICN) and Toronto Pearson (YYZ) this winter, according to Cirium schedules.