SCHIPHOL - Airline conglomerate Air France-KLM Group confirmed plans to order 50 Airbus A350 aircraft in the coming years, with additional rights to purchase 40 more airplanes in the future. The decision is part of the company's plan to renew its long-haul fleet, the company said on Monday.
The aircraft will be divided between KLM and Air France. It expects delivery in 2026, and to continue receiving the new airplanes at least through 2030. The new order is in addition to the airline group's order for 41 Airbus A350-900 units for Air France alone. So far, 22 have been delivered.
KLM has often used its intention to build a more efficient and quieter fleet as an argument against the Dutch government’s plans to shrink Schiphol Airport to reduce pollution. KLM believes the A350 to be among the most fuel efficient and quietest aircraft on the market.
"We have taken a big step towards our future with the proposed decision new aircraft. We can make our fleet significantly cleaner, quieter and more fuel-efficient with the A350s. This is important, because we are all faced with the major task of becoming more sustainable," said KLM CEO Marjan Rintel in a statement.
The group, which owns Dutch airline KLM, was rumored to be in the market for 30 to 50 fuel-efficient wide body jets to replace its older aircraft. The company was believed to be putting together a plan its 20-year-old fleet of Airbus A330s and Boeing . The company already purchased Boeing 787 Dreamliners and other Airbus A350 models to replace its older Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 aircraft.
"The Airbus A350 is a state-of-the-art aircraft with an excellent track record at Air France, where it has rapidly become a favorite among passengers and crew since its entry into service in 2019. It is the perfect fit for the network needs of the Group and boasts outstanding performances: it is a quieter, more and more cost-effective aircraft compared to previous generations. It will be instrumental in helping the Group reach our ambitious sustainability targets, including -30% CO2 emissions per passenger kilometer by 2030," said Air France-KLM CEO Benjamin Smith.
Many airlines worldwide are trying to obtain more fuel-efficient passenger jets as demand for long-haul travel bounced back after the coronavirus pandemic. With climate target deadlines getting closer, and airlines often required to fly around combat zones, many international flights now require more hours in the air, increasing airlines' urgency to replace aging aircraft.