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Air France came into being in 1933 when five small French airlines: Air Orient, Air Union, Compagnie Générale Aéropostale, Compagnie Internationale de Navigation Aérienne (CIDNA), and Société Générale de Transport Aérien (SGTA) merged to form the new airline. In the years before World War II, the Potez 62 was the workhorse of the airline. After World War II all French airlines were nationalized and Air France was given the responsibility of being the National airline. It initially flew a fleet of DC-3’s.
In 1946 the airline began service to New York from Paris using DC-4’s, the flight time was 20 hours. Air France entered the jet age in 1951 becoming one of the first operators of the ill-fated de Havilland Comet. AirFrance soon acquired Boeing 707 and 747 aircraft.
In 1976 Air France began to operate the Concorde SST aircraft. In 1988 Air France became the launch customer of the A320 Airbus short-haul aircraft. In 1990 it acquired UTA airlines.
In 2003 Air France merged with KLM. Air France stockholders own 81% of the newly merged company. While the companies merged it was decided to maintain separate brands and operations.
Today Air France has a fleet of 224 aircraft both from Boeing and Airbus. It currently has 84 planes on order, many destined to replace older aircraft that will be retired.
Air France vs KLM – The Story Of Two European Giants
This year KLM celebrated its 100th Anniversary as the world’s oldest airline. 14 years later, in 1933, Air France was founded. The two airlines have seen great success but have also faced many challenges in the crowded and highly competitive European market. 15 years ago, in 2004 Air France and KLM joined forces to become the Air France KLM Group and the “largest European airline group” according to the KLM website. This is the story of the two European giants and how they eventually joined forces in order to stay competitive.
The world’s oldest airline
While British Airways might have something to say about the title, KLM asserts its right to be called the world’s oldest airline operating under the same name today as when it was founded.
“In 1919, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines was founded. KLM is Dutch for Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij (literally: Royal Aviation Company)” -KLM Website
In its first year the airline recorded flying 345 passengers as well as 25,000 kilograms in mail and cargo. Ten years later in 1929 the airline offered a regularly scheduled, multi-stop service between Amsterdam and Indonesia’s capital.
Nowadays, the airline flies to destinations all over the world – except for Antarctica and Australia. This is done with its fleet of 116 aircraft which still, for better or for worse, include the aging Boeing 747 – in this case the unique 747-Combi. The airline also just received its first Boeing 787-10 recently. According to Travel Codex, the airline has historically operated aircraft like the Airbus A310, the Boeing 767, and the McDonnell-Douglas MD-11.
Flying the French flag
Though a younger airline at 86 years old, Air France has an equally interesting history as it started as a merger of multiple airlines:
Encouraged by the Minister for Air Transport, Pierre Cot, the major French airlines joined forces. Air Orient, Air Union, Lignes Farman, CIDNA and, later, Aéropostale joined by merger and acquisition to become a single national airline, founded on 30 August 1933. –Air France
With a strong colonial history, the airline had an extensive international network even in its early years. Even in its early years the airline was flying to the cities of Stockholm, Tunis, Santiago de Chile, Saigon. In those days its network was divided into five sectors: Continental Europe (based at Le Bourget), the Mediterranean (Marignane), the Americas (Buenos Aires), Africa (Toulouse) and the East (Damascus).
Air France has had an interesting fleet in recent decades. Air France is one of only two airlines that operated the iconic supersonic Concorde and was an early adopter of the Airbus A380. While very special aircraft in their own right, the Concorde crash of Air France flight 4590 in 2000 was the downfall of the program. Furthermore, the operating costs and challenging economics of the A380 has led to the discontinuation of the A380 program, with Air France phasing out the jets by 2022.
According to Business Insider, the airline now ranks as the 18th largest airline in terms of seat capacity with a fleet of 206 aircraft. This fleet will soon include the Airbus A350.
Joining forces – 15 years and counting
In May 2004, Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines joined forces in a historic merger. The Air France KLM Group is the largest European airline group and an interesting business case. In fact, each airline has avoided a complete merger in terms of branding.
The two airlines have retained their individual identities, trade names and brands. While heavily integrated, the two airlines run their own operations from their respective hubs Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam-Schiphol. The two airports represent the 2nd and 3rd largest in Europe and according to International Airport Review, are the 10th and 11th largest in the world this year.
This is what the KLM website has to say about their current operations:
“AIR FRANCE KLM Air France and KLM carry more than 77 million passengers per year. They operate 573 aircraft enabling them to fly to 243 destinations in 103 countries. Members of the joint AIR FRANCE KLM frequent flyer programme Flying Blue earn Miles and claim rewards on both airlines’ routes.”
The cooperation of the two airlines has been seen as necessary to survival in the competitive European market. In fact, in terms of legacy carriers, there are two large airline groups the Air France KLM has to compete with: IAG and the Lufthansa Group. Joining forces has allowed the two airlines to cooperate in interesting ways:
- Both Air France and KLM have the same loyalty program: Flying Blue
- The two airlines were able to easily “swap” their new aircraft orders – with Air France taking KLMs A350 orders and Air France giving its 787 orders to KLM.
- With a highly integrated network, flying intra-European and inter-continental routes mean that passengers might connect through Amsterdam on the outbound journey and Paris on their return (or vice-versa).
As an Air France-KLM frequent flyer, I was able to personally experience another benefit of their extensive integration. In late July, Amsterdam’s airport was experiencing chaos with cancellations and delays as it was unable to refuel aircraft. Flying from Berlin to Milan, my flight was updated at the last minute. This meant changing from a KLM flight via Amsterdam to an Air France flight via Paris. This was a nearly seamless process for me as I was updated via mobile app and email and flight times were incredibly similar (though I personally prefer connecting through Amsterdam).
It hasn’t been a complete walk in the park for the two airlines. In February, the Dutch government purchased a 12.68% stake in the Air France-KLM group. It is believed that the Dutch intend to eventually match the 14.3% stake held by the French government. The intention of the purchase was to protect the Dutch government’s interests in its national airline. However, this caused quite a stir with their french counterparts.
The move was criticised by the French government, specifically by French Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire. Le Maire spoke of how Air France-KLM should be “managed without national public interference”. In a similar air the French President, Emmanuel Macron, believes the Dutch government should clarify its intentions.
There is little doubt that French and Dutch cultures are distinctly different. Therefore, it is a great testament that the two airlines have cooperated for 15 years now despite occasional tension. It will be interesting to see how the aviation market continues to develop and if the airline group can manage to hold its ground against the powerhouse that is the Lufthansa Group.
Have you flown Air France or KLM recently? Let us know how your experience was by leaving a comment!
What role did the Boeing 747 have with Air France?
Air France operated its first Boeing 747-100 on June 3rd, 1970. This was just a few months after the aircraft had made its debut with Pan Am. Air France deployed its first 747 on the lucrative Paris-New York route.
At the peak of use, Air France deployed 52 different Boeing 747s. These ranged from the initial 747-100 model to six converted 747 freighters. These conversions doubled the lifespans of the former passenger aircraft. In fact, in operating the -100, -200, -300 and -400 models, Air France would go on to use almost every model of the Queen of the skies. The only variants that the airline did not utilize were the shorter 747SP and the recently developed 747-8.
The aircraft was a dynamic change for the airline. The 747 was able to operate new, direct flights to remote French holiday destinations well outside Europe and connect Paris, the ‘City of Light,’ with the rest of the world. These destinations included the likes of Réunion, an Indian Ocean island off the east coast of Africa. Perhaps the most iconic, however, was, of course, the avgeek’s paradise of Saint-Martin in the Caribbean.
Air France’s Boeing 747s were a great equalizer. With such a large capacity, passengers could fly for cheaper than ever before. This opened up France to millions of tourists who could previously only dream of seeing the Eiffel Tower in person, while also unlocking long-haul destinations worldwide for French passengers to savor.
Why has it taken so long?
Families of those who died as well as pilots' unions have campaigned for years for a trial, BBC Paris correspondent Hugh Schofield reports.
Magistrates had initially charged both the airline and manufacturer with manslaughter but the Paris prosecutor then recommended that only Air France should go on trial. In September 2019 charges against both were dropped, because there were not enough grounds to prosecute.
Both the general prosecutor and the Paris prosecutor challenged that decision and the Paris appeals court on Wednesday decided both the airline and Airbus should stand trial.
"It's enormously satisfying to feel we've finally been heard by the courts," said Danièle Lamy, the head of the victims' families support group. "We just regret it's had to take 12 long years to get here - 12 years of unstinting determination, filled with uncertainty, frustrating and obscure procedures and discouragement, but we never gave in."
There is little prospect of any trial soon. Air France said it had committed no crime and may take the case to the high court of appeal. Airbus has also said it will appeal, insisting the decision did "not reflect in any way the conclusions of the investigation that led to the dismissal of the case in favour of Airbus".
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The group Air France-KLM relies on the strength of its hubs at Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam-Schiphol to offer a vast international network. Its Flying Blue frequent flyer programme has over 18 million members. Air France and KLM are members of the SkyTeam alliance which has a total of 19 member airlines.
Air France places the health and safety of its customers and staff at the heart of its priorities and, from the start of the health crisis, introduced exceptional measures, grouped together under the Air France Protect label, to ensure a stress-free trip.
As part of its Horizon 2030 programme, Air France is committed to reducing its CO2 emissions per passenger kilometre by 50% by 2030.
AIR FRANCE GUARANTEES ITS CUSTOMERS A SAFE TRIP
In the current context of the global health crisis, our customers' expectations are changing.
Air France customers want to:
- Travel responsibly
- Find the "right consumption" and make choices based on their own desires and values
- Invent their own à la carte experience
- Opt for simplicity, "Less is more" as a synonym for excellence
- Be informed in a transparent way
Area 1: A SAFETY CULTURE AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL
Above and beyond the standards defined at international, European and French level, Air France places flight safety at the heart of its corporate culture and constantly reaffirms safety as an absolute necessity. This corporate culture is supported at the highest level of the company, through the personal commitment of each member of the Executive Committee. A Flight Safety Committee has also been set up within the Board of Directors to address these issues. Air France's safety management system is based on an organized, consistent and structured approach. It is the result of the commitment of all those involved in the company: on board, of course, with the pilots and cabin crew, but also on the ground in the hangars and maintenance workshops, at the cargo division, at each station and on the ramp. Beyond the essential compliance with rules and procedures, Air France's approach to flight safety aims to establish a genuine sustainable progress approach, both individually and collectively, to raise safety to the highest level. It is based on the daily commitment of everyone involved, through key principles such as transparency and individual responsibility.
Area 2: THE PROMISE OF A STRESS-FREE TRIP
Air France places the health and safety of its customers and staff at the heart of its priorities and, as soon as the health crisis began, introduced exceptional measures, grouped together under the Air France Protect label, to ensure that passengers can travel with complete peace of mind, with the strictest health conditions at every stage of their trip, tickets that are fully modifiable and refundable, and insurance coverage linked to the pandemic.
Fully modifiable and refundable tickets
Strict health measures throughout the trip
Insurance covering the risk of epidemics with Allianz Travel
In January 2021, Air France was awarded a 4-star "Covid-19 safety rating" by Skytrax
Area 3: COMMITMENTS FOR A RESPONSIBLE TRIP IN COMPLETE CONFIDENCE
Air France has set itself ambitious objectives in terms of sustainable development and is working to reduce and offset its CO2 emissions. As part of the Horizon 2030 programme, the airline has committed to reducing its CO2 emissions per passenger-kilometre by 50% by 2030 through major investments to renew its fleet with new-generation aircraft, the use of innovative solutions to reduce fuel consumption and the creation of a future Sustainable Aviation Fuel chain for responsible, economically viable and sustainable French aviation.
/>16 new generation aircraft in the AF fleet by the end of 2020.
/>400,000 tons less CO2 per year thanks to fuel plan and eco-piloting actions
/>2% incorporation of Sustainable Aviation Fuels by 2025 (5% by 2030)
/>50% reduction in CO2 emissions:
- per passenger/km by 2030 compared to 2005
- in absolute terms on the domestic network by 2024 (domestic flights from Orly and inter-regional flights)
Air France flight 4590
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Air France flight 4590, flight of a Concorde supersonic airplane that crashed in Gonesse, a suburb of Paris, on July 25, 2000. The airplane went down in flames almost immediately after takeoff, killing all 109 people on board and 4 others on the ground. It was the first fatal crash of a Concorde in 24 years of regular passenger service. The event is believed to have hastened the end of all Concorde operations in 2003.
Flight 4590 was a charter flight from Paris to New York City. The aircraft was an Air France Concorde, registration number F-BTSC. Most of the passengers were German tourists on their way to board a Caribbean-bound cruise ship in New York City. At approximately 4:43 pm the plane began its takeoff from Charles de Gaulle Airport. However, as it accelerated down the runway, ground observers noticed a fire on the left side, under the wing. The aircraft veered left on the runway, and, at about the time it left the ground, one of the two left-side engines failed. The pilot was unable to climb higher than about 200 feet (60 metres), and, about 90 seconds after the commencement of takeoff, the other left-side engine failed. At this point the aircraft dropped from the sky and crashed into a small hotel and restaurant in suburban Gonesse. All on board—100 passengers and 9 crew members—died. In addition, four people on the ground perished, and six others suffered injuries.
Air France grounded its remaining Concordes immediately British Airways, the only other operator of the aircraft, followed suit in August. Both airlines resumed service in November 2001, but less than two years after that, all Concorde service ceased permanently.
A French government investigation into the crash later determined that the Concorde ran over a strip of metal on the runway, causing a tire to blow out. A large fragment of rubber then struck a fuel tank on the underside of the wing. (Fuel accounted for more than half the total weight of the fully loaded Concorde.) The impact most likely led the completely full tank to rupture from within. The spilling fuel quickly ignited, probably from an electrical arc in the landing gear wiring, and the fire caused the engines to fail.
The strip of metal on the runway was found to be a jet engine part that had fallen from a Continental Airlines DC-10 in the course of its own takeoff, a few minutes ahead of the Concorde. The engine part (a thrust reverser wear strip) had recently been replaced in routine maintenance. The mechanic who did the work used a strip made of an alloy with 90 percent titanium content, not stainless steel as specified by the manufacturer of the engine.
Critics of the official report pointed out other possible contributory factors that had been largely discounted by the French investigators. The aircraft exceeded recommended takeoff weight, and it was missing a “spacer” in the landing gear mechanism, possibly causing the aircraft to skid down the runway. There also had been a wind shift before takeoff, resulting in an undesirable tailwind. In addition, the flight crew may have shut down an engine prematurely.
In 2010 a French court ruled that Continental Airlines (by this time involved in a merger with United Airlines) and its mechanic were guilty of involuntary manslaughter, citing poor workmanship and use of improper materials. The court disregarded claims by defense lawyers that the fire had started before the tire encountered the metal strip. An appeals court overturned the criminal convictions two years later but kept a fine on the airline in force.
Concorde jet crashes, killing everyone onboard
An Air France Concorde jet crashes upon takeoff in Paris on July 25, 2000, killing everyone onboard as well as four people on the ground. The Concorde, the world’s fastest commercial jet, had enjoyed an exemplary safety record up to that point, with no crashes in the plane’s 31-year history.
Air France Flight 4590 left DeGaulle Airport for New York carrying nine crew members and 96 German tourists who were planning to take a cruise to Ecuador. Almost immediately after takeoff, however, the plane plunged to the ground near a hotel in Gonesse, France. A huge fireball erupted and all 105 people on the plane were killed immediately.
The Concorde fleet was grounded in the wake of this disaster while the cause was investigated. The Concorde, powered by four Rolls Royce turbojets, was able to cross the Atlantic Ocean in less than three-and-a-half hours, reaching speeds of 1,350 miles per hour, which is more than twice the speed of sound. The July 25 incident, though, was not related to the Concorde’s engine construction or speed.
The investigation revealed that the plane that took off just prior to Flight 4590 had dropped a piece of metal onto the runway. When the Concorde jet ran over it, its tire was shredded and thrown into one of the engines and fuel tanks, causing a disabling fire.
Concorde jets went back into service in November 2001, but a series of minor problems prompted both Air France and British Airways to end Concorde service permanently in October 2003.
History Of Ballooning
On November 21, 1783 the first free flight carrying a human occurred in Paris, France in a hot air balloon made of paper and silk made by the Montgolfier brothers. The balloon carried two men, Francois Pilatrê de Rozier and Francois Laurent, Marquis of Arlanders. They stood on a circular platform attached to the bottom of the balloon. They hand-fed the fire through openings on either side of the balloon’s skirt. The balloon reached an altitude of at least 500 feet and traveled about 5½ miles before landing safely 25 minutes later. Legend says when they landed in the farming and vineyard area near Paris the pilots gave bottles of champagne to the startled farmers and peasants to calm their fears of demons appearing from the heavens, but that cannot be confirmed.
On December 1, 1783, just ten days after the first hot air balloon ride, the first gas balloon was launched by physicist Jacques Alexander Charles and Nicholas Louis Robert. This flight too started in Paris, France. The flight lasted 2½ hours and covered a distance of 25 miles. The gas used in the balloon was hydrogen, a lighter than air gas that had been developed by an Englishman, Henry Cavendish in 1776, by using a combination of sulphuric acid and iron filings.
Gas balloons soon became the preferred mode of air travel. The balloon shown at left is the Royal Vauxhall Balloon typical of gas balloons which were flown in the 1830’s and 1840’s. Unlike hot air balloons, gas balloons did not depend upon fire to get them aloft and stay up and therefore they were able to stay up longer and their altitude could be controlled somewhat easier with the use of ballasts. Gas balloons continued to be the primary mode of air travel until the invention of the fixed wing aircraft by the Wright brothers in America in 1903. However, it was expensive to and time consuming to inflate a gas balloon so flying was not something just anyone could afford. Hot air balloons, however, had no dependable heat source, so hot air ballooning was not very practical.
In these early days of ballooning, crossing the English Channel was considered the first step to long distance flying. In 1785 Pilatre de Rozier, one of the men from the first balloon flight, and a man named Romain attempted to cross the channel in a balloon which was an experimental system using both hydrogen and hot air compartments. Unfortunately this volatile mixture of highly flammable hydrogen with fire caused the balloon to explode thirty minutes after lift off and both men were killed. The first successful crossing of the English Channel was accomplished later the same year by French balloonist Jean-Pierre Blanchard and American John Jeffries using a gas balloon. The balloon is shown at left flying over France after crossing the channel.
The first manned flight of a balloon in America occurred January 9, 1793. It was a hydrogen gas balloon piloted by the same Frenchman who was the first to cross the English Channel, Jean-Pierre Blanchard. This flight ascended from a prison yard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He ascended to about 5,800 feet and he made a successful landing in Gloucester County, in New Jersey. George Washington observed the launch.
Airships, often called blimps, began to be built in the early 1900’s. They were inflated by hydrogen gas to keep them aloft. Airships are cigar shaped balloons, some of which have a rigid frame to maintain their shape. They had engines with propellers as well as flaps to control the direction and speed of flight. The Van Zeppelin was the first large airship built. It was 420 feet long and could travel 600 miles in 2 days. One of the first such ships in the U.S. was built in 1904. These large ships became the first commercial airliners. Many were made for military uses but others had luxurious cabins for seating passengers. By 1936 airships had become more common. The most famous airship was the Hindenburg built in Germany in 1936. It was 803 feet long and 135 feet wide and contained 7 million cubic feet of gas. It had luxurious passenger areas.
On May 6, 1937 the Hindenburg caught fire and burned in less that one minute while attempting to dock in Lakehurst, New Jersey. Of the 97 persons on board 35 were killed. Such ships had exemplary safety records until the spectacular demise of this famous ship. After that the use of such airships began to wane. Other disasters with hydrogen filled airships caused them to gradually be phased out. Hydrogen was considered too dangerous and the new helium gas was very expensive and it was not widely available outside the United States.
In 1960 Paul E. (Ed) Yost and 3 others formed Raven Industries in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and developed the modern hot air balloon and the propane gas burner which made sustained flight possible. On October 22, 1960 Yost piloted the maiden flight of the new balloon on a flight lasting 25 minutes and traveling 3 miles. The balloon was 40 feet in diameter with a volume of 30,000 cubic feet. This made modern sport hot air ballooning possible. Yost and Don Piccard, an experienced gas balloon pilot, together did much to promote new system. In 1963 Yost and Piccard, flying “The Channel Champ”, became the first to fly a hot air balloon across the English Channel thereby proving the practicality hot air ballooning. Tracy Barnes also contributed to the success of the new balloon with his work on a parachute rip system and improved burners and baskets. Their work was also supplemented by many other pioneer balloonist/innovators.
By 1963 Sport ballooning had grown enough so that the first U. S. National Hot Air Balloon Championship event was held in Kalamazoo, Michigan under the auspices of the Balloon Federation of America. The 1963 event is shown in photo (i) at left. In 1964 the Nationals were held in Nevada where it remained for 3 years. In 1967-1969 no Nationals were held. In 1970 the preliminaries for the Nationals were held in Indianola, Iowa with the final event at the State Fair grounds in Des Moines, Iowa. The National championships remained in Indianola for 18 years. (See photo j) Beginning in 1989 the Nationals have moved around to various parts of the country. That same year the National Balloon Classic was born to take its place in Indianola. Many local ballooning clubs now hold events all over the United States. As the technology of burners and balloon envelop construction improved ballooning continued to grow in popularity. Most sport ballooning today is with hot air balloons. Gas ballooning has it followers as well, but inflating a gas balloon takes longer and the high price of helium continues make it too expensive for most.
Balloons using a combination of helium and hot air are now used for many long distance flights such as the around the world flight of Steve Fossett in his balloon, “Bud Light Spirit of Freedom”(shown at left) on June 19, 2002. This balloon was a hybrid hot air and gas balloon with two separate Helium gas cells and one hot air cell. Inflated, the balloon stood 180 feet tall with a diameter of 108 feet. Fossett launched from Northam, Western Australia in a seventh and successful attempt to be the first person to circumnavigate the globe solo in a balloon. Fourteen days, 19 hours and 51 minutes later he landed in the eastern Australian Outback.
Gas balloons, such as NASA’s Ultra-Long Duration Balloon shown at left, provide greatly enhanced scientific research. Such balloons are used like satellites to study deep space and the Earth, but at a fraction of the cost of a satellite. NASA balloons are made of a thin polyethylene material about the same thickness as an ordinary sandwich wrap. In size they range up to 40 million cubic feet in volume and 600 feet in diameter and taller than a 60-story building. When the experiment is complete, a radio command is sent from a ground station to separate the scientific payload from the balloon and a parachute opens and it floats back to the ground. The balloon envelope collapses and falls to the Earth.
Evolution of the Air France-KLM fleet
The Air France-KLM Board of Directors approved several strategic decisions concerning the development of the Air France fleet, following a meeting on July 30, 2019.
These decisions reflect the Group's focus on simplification. Making the fleet more competitive, by continuing its transformation with more modern, high-performance aircraft with a significantly reduced environmental footprint is key to achieving leading industry margins.
- Firm order for 60 A220-300s, with 30 options and 30 acquisition rights, which will gradually replace Air France's A318 and A319 fleet
- Retirement of the 10 A380s from the Air France fleet by 2022, and study of the replacement of A380s by new generation aircraft
Renewal of Air France's short- and medium-haul fleet
Air France has committed to a firm order of 60 Airbus A220-300 aircraft, with an additional 30 purchase options and 30 acquisition rights. The first aircraft should be delivered in September 2021. They will join Air France's short- and medium-haul fleet.
This aircraft will enable Air France to reduce its environmental footprint. The A220-300 generates 20% less CO2 emissions than comparable aircraft in its class, and is twice as quiet.
With a capacity of 149 seats and an operating range of 2,300 nautical miles, the A220-300 is perfectly suited to replace the A318 and A319 on the Air France short- and medium-haul network. This aircraft will allow the company to increase its competitiveness by reducing its cost per seat by more than 10% compared to the aircraft it will replace.
Finally, its entry into the Air France fleet will contribute to the continuous improvement of the customer experience, thanks to seats offering more space, larger cabin baggage storage compartments, wide aisles and WiFi on board.
Retirement of the A380s from the Air France fleet by 2022
The Air France-KLM Board of Directors today approved the retirement in principle of the remaining seven A380s from the Air France fleet by 2022, the phase out of three additional aircraft having been decided previously. Five of these aircraft are owned by the company, while two are leased.
The current competitive environment limits the markets in which the A380 can profitably operate. With four engines, the A380 consumes 20-25% more fuel per seat than new generation long-haul aircraft, and therefore emits more CO2. Increasing aircraft maintenance costs, as well as necessary cabin refurbishments to meet customer expectations reduce the economic attractiveness of Air France's A380s even further. Keeping this aircraft in the fleet would involve significant costs, while the aircraft programme was suspended by Airbus earlier in 2019.
The Air France KLM Group is studying possible replacement options for these aircraft with new generation aircraft currently on the market.
"These decisions support the Air France-KLM Group's fleet competitiveness strategy," said Benjamin Smith, CEO of the Air France-KLM Group. "They follow the recent orders for A350s and Boeing 787s that Air France and KLM have placed. We are very pleased to work with Airbus to add the A220-300 to our fleet, an aircraft that demonstrates optimum environmental, operational, and economic efficiency. The selection of the Airbus A220-300 supports our goal of a more sustainable operation, by significantly reducing CO2 and noise emissions. This aircraft will also provide our customers with additional comfort on the short- and medium-haul network and will provide our pilots with a connected cockpit with access to the latest navigation technology. This is a very important next step in Air France's transformation, and this evolution in Air France's fleet underlines the Group's determination to attain European airline leadership.”
Air France-KLM operates a fleet of 541 aircraft between its three main brands, Air France, KLM, and Transavia, to 318 destinations globally. In 2018, AFKL flew over 100 million customers.