By Orji Onyekwere
Air France-KLM has just placed a huge order for new wide-body planes with Airbus in an effort to increase its long-haul services.
Ironically, less than a week ago, aviation experts were talking about whether KLM would survive because the Netherlands was considering a tax on people who only used the airport in Amsterdam as a transfer point. Observers said people would be reluctant to fly KLM to get to other points in Europe and still have to pay a tax just to land in Amsterdam without staying. But the combined company seems to be healthy enough to order almost 100 planes.
An order was placed for the A350-900 and A350-1000. This is for a firm order of 50 jets with an option for 40, to be delivered between 2023 and 2030. The breakdown of which aircraft are going to which airline is unknown.
In a statement, Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith said: “This new order will be a major step in the renewal of the Group’s fleet. 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 fuel efficient 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.”
This is welcome news in an industry that has had to have more cutbacks recently than additions. The new airplanes will eventually replace existing equipment. All existing planes for the two airlines are more than a dozen years old each.