Air France Expected To Order Airbus A220

Filed Under: Air France/KLM

Air France has been working on modernizing their fleet, as they’ve ordered 787-9s and A350-900s. However, up until now they haven’t announced planes for updating their short haul fleet, which will eventually need to be refreshed as well.

Air France’s narrow body mainline fleet consists of all four Airbus A320 family variants — the A318, A319, A320, and A321. They have 110+ of these planes in their fleet between all the variants, and the fleet isn’t getting any younger.

Air France A318

For a while there have been rumors about Air France soon announcing a new aircraft order to refresh their narrow body fleet, and it looks like that’s about to be a reality. While officials from both Air France and Airbus haven’t officially commented, France’s Journal du Dimanche reports that Air France is expected to announce an order for 50-70 Airbus A220s this week (update: this order has now been confirmed).

This is expected to be approved by Air France’s board tomorrow, and is expected to be announced during Air France’s financial results that will be revealed on Wednesday.

It’s not yet clear exactly how many firm orders and how many options there will be, and it’s also not clear how the order will be split between A220-100s and A220-300s.

The A220 is a joy of a plane to fly — it’s fuel efficient, comfortable as a passenger, and fills a niche that’s not otherwise well served.

Swiss’ Airbus A220 cabin

The A220-100 has a capacity for somewhere around 125 seats, while the A220-300 has a capacity for someone around 145 seats.

As a point of comparison, the capacity of Air France’s A318s to A321s ranges from 118 seats to 212 seats.

The A220 would be a fantastic replacement for the A318 and A319, while it would represent a mild capacity cut compared to the A320, and a significant capacity cut compared to the A321.

There had also been rumors that Air France would order the A320neo, though the same source suggests that this order isn’t imminent. That’s not to say it won’t happen in the future, but rather just that it’s not happening right now.

What do you make of Air France’s imminent A220 order?

Comments
  1. Delta is operating a220 on a transcon ATL-SEA. Surprised to see you haven’t written about that yet

  2. The A220 isn’t really an Airbus plane. They didn’t design it and nor do they directly build them.

    It’s the renamed Bombardier C Series.

  3. From various articles they’re planning to replace the 318/319 with the A220s like you said, and the older A320/321s with the A320neo. Honestly I’d be surprised if they don’t order the A321neo at some point. Also I read somewhere that the 50-70 are gonna be firm, and there are gonna be another 50 options, which would make sense, but it looked like a third-tier french site so I’m not sure of the validity of it.

  4. Gee, wouldn’t it be cool to see them expand A220 service into some long and thin Francophone routes? I’m thinking places like Saint Pierre and West Africa which are well within the range of the new A220s (even with Atlantic winds and no-fly zones). With a comfortable configuration, I could see them breaking into or adding frequencies to some really cool markets. The A220 is by far my favorite plane in the sky, and I’m really excited to see them get such a large order!

  5. @ChrisC – Airbus owns 50.01% of the programme, and Airbus is handling the marketing, so for all practical purposes it’s now an Airbus, with Bombardier Aviation is a contractor with a minority ownership of the overall program. And Airbus has established a second assembly line for the A220 at their facility in Alabama.

    I still think of them as the “C-Series”, though, just as I still think of the Boeing 717 as the “MD-95”.

  6. I’m looking forward to it because excluding Swiss and airbaltic there isn’t enough A220 action in Europe. If Air France order them I will be happy to see this fantastic plane make it onto more routes

  7. Unless we actually see proper a proper Business Class hard product for intra-Europe travel, this is almost a non-announcement.

  8. Airbus and Boeing are pushing hard to score the large narrowbody order, as Air France operates A32x while KLM operates 737, both fleets are aging, and AF/KLM has expressed interest in consolidating around a single unified fleet type.

    If this A220 order goes ahead, one would expect it to be part of a bundled A32xneo order. Advantage: Airbus.

  9. I it’s pretty unlikely that the A321s will be replaced by A220s, but the A318/9s for sure. A320s, we’ll wait and see. Boeing very doubtful.

  10. “The A220 isn’t really an Airbus plane. They didn’t design it and nor do they directly build them. It’s the renamed Bombardier C Series.”
    Fancy you spotting that. Where have you been for the last two years 😉
    Although it is now an Airbus product, with Airbus owning 50.1% of the operation to Bombardier’s 30%.

  11. “AF/KLM has expressed interest in consolidating around a single unified fleet type.”
    This is not quite correct. AF/KLM are consolidating around two fleet types for wide body planes – KLM is going Boeing, including some planes previously ordered for Air France, and Air France going Airbus, including some planes previously ordered for KLM.
    It is not yet clear whether this policy will apply to narrow body planes, which is one reason why this order is so important – it may clarify future purchasing policy

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