Air France-KLM announced that it plans to expand an agreement with Airbus to acquire 50 A350 widebodies, in addition to 40 purchase options.
The rumor had been circulating for some time and was confirmed on Monday by the French newspaper Le Tribune. Hours later, the group confirmed the choice of the Airbus aircraft.
According to the statement, 50 A350-900 and A350-1000 will be received, a first for the group. The agreement, however, does not establish quantities or which companies will receive the aircraft.
“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,” said Air France-KLM CEO Benjamin Smith.
The order will be added to the existing contract with Airbus, which has 41 confirmed aircraft, 22 of which have been delivered, all to Air France.
Adding to the A350Fs ordered, the Air France-KLM group will be the largest operator of the widebody in the world, with 99 aircraft.
Deliveries will take place between 2026 and 2030 and will serve as a replacement for the old A330 and Boeing 777 widebodies.
Boeing was also competing for the order with the 787 and 777X models. KLM has been a loyal customer of the US manufacturer, but recently ordered A320neo jets to replace its Boeing 737s.
Among the arguments pointed out in favor of the A350 are its greater passenger capacity and autonomy.
There are currently 26 A330s and 92 777s in the two carriers’ fleet, in addition to 33 787 Dreamliners.
KLM should have operated the A350 some time ago, but in an arrangement with Air France, it ended up passing on its order to its partner, in exchange for more Dreamliner units.
The announcement of the A350 order comes days after the Air France-KLM group established a partnership with Airbus to carry out specialized maintenance services on the widebody.
Editor’s note: article updated after Air France-KLM group confirms order plans