Air France-KLM on Tuesday announced that it will finalise its order with Airbus for four new generation A350F freighters, following the earlier commitment announced in December 2021.
In Tuesday's announcement, Air France-KLM stated its decision to convert into a firm order the Letter of Intent (LoI) it signed in 2021 for the acquisition of four Airbus A350F full freighter aircraft – with purchase rights for an additional four aircraft.
The two firms had earlier signed an LoI in December 2021, after the Air France-KLM Board of Directors made the decision to move ahead with the group's goal to improve its economic and environmental performance through the introduction of next-generation aircraft On December 16, 2021,.
These aircraft will be operated by Air France and be based at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport, the airline's global hub, equipped with a state-of-art 14,000 square metres cargo terminal.
In the context of steady and sustainable growth of demand for air cargo, Air France-KLM continues to bolster its world-leading network built around the powerful Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam-Schiphol hubs. These aircraft will increase Air France's cargo capacity, which currently comprises two Boeing 777F, supplementing the belly capacity of the airline's 100+ wide-body passenger aircraft.
The A350F is based on the world's most modern long-range leader, the A350. The aircraft will feature a large main deck cargo door and a fuselage length optimised for cargo operations. Over 70% of the airframe is made of advanced materials resulting in a 30 tonnes lighter take-off weight, which together with efficient Rolls-Royce engines generate at least 20% lower fuel burn and CO2 over its current closest competitor. With a 109 tonnes payload capability (+3t payload / 11% more volume than its competition), the A350F serves all cargo markets (Express, general cargo, special cargo…) and is in the large freighter category the only new generation freighter aircraft ready for the enhanced ICAO CO₂ emissions standards.
Launched in 2021, the A350F recorded 29 orders and commitments from five customers.
About the development, Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Airbus International, said, "Airlines now have a choice, and we salute Air France joining those going for the A350F's step-change in efficiency and sustainability for the cargo operations of the future. We are gratified by the wave of early adopters who, like Air France, see the economics and environmental signature of the A350s as standing out versus alternatives, past, existing and future. Merci Air France."
This order comes with full substitution rights to Airbus A350 passenger aircraft, which constitute the new flagship of Air France's long-haul fleet. The airline currently operates 15 of the 38 aircraft of the type on order.
As of December 31, 2021, Air France-KLM operated a fleet of 505 aircraft to over 300 destinations worldwide.
"This order embodies Air France-KLM's determination to strengthen its position in the buoyant cargo business," said Benjamin Smith, CEO of Air France-KLM. "The Airbus A350 passenger version has been instrumental to the improvement of our economic and environmental performance while proving to be a passenger's favourite. We are thrilled to be among the launch customers of its freighter version, which will significantly increase our capacity and give us the means to continue to provide the best service to our customers around the world.