Air France-KLM will order an additional seven Airbus SE A350 jets, including some freighters, as the carrier renews its widebody fleet and retires Boeing Co. 747 freighters.
The order comprises four A350F freighters for KLM Cargo and an additional three A350s for Air France, the company said in a statement on its website. With those orders, Air France will have a fleet of 41 A350s.
Airlines are in the midst of upgrading their long-haul fleets as flying rebounds from the Covid-19 pandemic, with more fuel efficient jets to slash emissions and reduce costs. Airbus is relying on the lower emissions as a selling point for the advanced A350F as it attempts to break into the freighter segment of the market long dominated by Boeing Co.
Equipped with a three class layout, Air France expects deliveries of the passenger A350s in 2024, while the freighters will be delivered in second half of 2026.
The A350Fs will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 40% and will replace the fleet of 4 Boeing 747 freighters operated by KLM Cargo and Martinair, the average age of which is 22 years. Air France has operated the 747 since 1970, while KLM received its first jumbo a year later.
With the carrier group now signaling the retirement of the four-engined Queen of the Skies, it marks the end of era just as Boeing prepares to hand over its final 747 next week after more than five decades of production.