Air France KLM's board of directors has approved orders by the group for 25 Airbus A350-900s and 25 Boeing 787-9s, along with options on...

Air France KLM’s board of directors has approved orders by the group for 25 Airbus A350-900s and 25 Boeing 787-9s, along with options on 35 more A350 XWBs and 25 more 787s.

The group says its commitment for up to 110 long-haul aircraft (50 on firm order and 60 optioned) is still subject to finalization of discussions with the manufacturers.

However, having received approval for the orders from its board, Air France KLM says it will now sign memoranda of understanding with Airbus, Boeing and Rolls Royce and it expects to finalize purchase contracts for its A350-900s and 787-9s before the end of the year.

In the medium term, this first joint long-haul order by Air France and KLM will replace 200-to-350-seat aircraft in the  two carriers’ fleets. The order will also support the two airlines’ service growth, according to Air France KLM.

Air France is due to receive its first Airbus A350-900 in 2018 from a planned order by parent Air France KLM for 25 A350 XWBs. KLM is expected also to operate the A350-900. The Air France KLM group also is taking options on 35 more A350 XWBs

The orders are of a scale that can be financed through cash flow generated from group operations, Air France KLM says.

Air France KLM adds that, consistent with its provisional fleet plan, the orders will result in the group operating 73 next-generation widebodies by 2024: 43 Airbus A350-900s and 30 Boeing 787-9s. This number indicates that Air France KLM intends to exercise options on at least 18 A350-900s and five 787-9s by 2024.

The first aircraft from the planned Boeing 787-9 order is expected to enter into service with KLM in 2016 and the first Airbus A350-900 with Air France in 2018. Later, both airlines will operate both types of aircraft, the group says.

Air France KLM has yet to select the engine type for its Boeing 787-9 order. The group’s Airbus A350-900s will be equipped with Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, the only engine made available for the aircraft.

The new aircraft will reduce Air France KLM’s fuel consumption by over 15 per cent and will create a significant reduction in noise and gas emissions, according to the group.

Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance, the group’s aircraft maintenance department, has committed to position itself as a key market player for the maintenance of the A350 XWB and the Boeing 787 and their engines.

“For its first joint order, the Air France KLM group made its selection after a detailed assessment showing all the performance characteristics of each aircraft, including their energy and environmental performance,” says Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, CEO of Air France KLM.

“Their integration into the fleet will enable the group to continue to operate one of the youngest and most modern fleets in the world,” says Peter Hartman, president & CEO of KLM.

“We are honored that our all new, extra efficient A350 XWB will contribute to Air France-KLM’s long-term success,” says John Leahy, Airbus’ chief operating officer – customers. “The A350 XWB’s unbeatable economics and environmental credentials will establish the aircraft as the future backbone of the airline’s long-haul fleet. We take this decision as a testimony of confidence in our brand and products.”

“We’re proud to be a major part of the fleet renewal plan being undertaken by Air France-KLM ,” says Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “The 787 Dreamliner will bring outstanding value to the two airlines and will be a great complement to their large fleets of Boeing widebody airplanes. We’re looking forward to finalizing our agreement.”

Although Air France will take delivery of A350-900s before sister carrier KLM will, parent company Air France KLM says the Dutch airline will operate the Airbus type. KLM will take delivery of the group's first Boeing 787, receiving its first 787-9 in 2016

The Airbus A350 XWB (Xtra Wide-Body) Family is an all-new long range product line comprising three models capable of flying between 270 and 350 passengers in typical three-class layouts on flights of up to 8,500 nautical miles.

Air France-KLM group currently operates a fleet of 191 Airbus aircraft: six A380s, 26 A330s, 15 A340s, 24 A321s, 58 A320s, 44 A319s and 18 A318s. Airbus notes that, with this new order, Air France-KLM joins an expanding group of airlines to have a member of each Airbus aircraft family in their fleets.

By end of August, Airbus had recorded firm orders for 567 A350 XWBs from 35 customers.

The Boeing 787 is the fastest-selling twin-aisle aircraft in aviation history, with more than 800 orders from 56 customers around the world. (At one point, orders for the 787 were well over 900, but Boeing has lost orders for about 100 aircraft because deliveries have been delayed for more than three years as a result of Boeing’s production difficulties with the 787.) The Air France-KLM announcement is not included in the 787’s current order total.

Nine French companies partner with Boeing on the 787 Dreamliner. They include Dassault Systèmes (software solutions); Labinal (wiring); Latécoère (passenger doors); Messier-Bugatti (electric brakes); Messier-Dowty (main and nose landing gear); Michelin (tyres); Radiall (connectors); Thales (electric power conversion system; flight display, in-flight entertainment system); and Zodiac (emergency slides, primary electrical distribution and other equipment).

The Air France KLM group has 188 Boeing aircraft in operation.