In September 2023, Air France-KLM placed an incremental order for up to 90 Airbus A350s, including 50 firm orders and 40 options. The intent was for these planes to be used for long term fleet renewal across both carriers.
Prior to this, Air France had already been flying Airbus A350s, while KLM’s wide body fleet renewal was focused on Boeing 787s. We now have some more details as to what we can expect with A350s joining KLM’s fleet.
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KLM will fly Airbus A350s as of 2026, replace A330s and 777s
While we still don’t know exactly how many Airbus A350s KLM will take delivery of, we can expect that all planes belonging to the current order will be delivered between 2026 and 2030. In the case of KLM, the intent is to use these planes to replace Airbus A330-200s, Airbus A330-300s, and Boeing 777-200ERs:
- KLM has six Airbus A330-200s, which are an average of around 18 years old
- KLM has five Airbus A330-300s, which are an average of around 12 years old
- KLM has 15 Boeing 777-200ERs, which are an average of around 18 years old
KLM intends to keep flying Boeing 787-9s, Boeing 787-10s, and Boeing 777-300ERs. KLM is even installing new business class seats with doors on its 777-300ERs.
While we don’t know how exactly the Air France-KLM order will be split between Air France and KLM, I think it’s safe to say that at least half of the 50 firm orders will go to KLM, based on the fact that at least 26 planes will be retired.
KLM reveals planned Airbus A350 layouts
Luchtvaartnieuws has an update about KLM’s planned cabin configurations for the upcoming Airbus A350s. What can we expect?
- Airbus A350-900s will have 331 seats, including 34 business class seats, 26 premium economy seats, 33 extra legroom economy seats, and 238 standard economy seats
- Airbus A350-1000s will have 391 seats, including 34 business class seats, 28 premium economy seats, 32 extra legroom economy seats, and 297 standard economy seats
Airbus A350s will represent a significant capacity increase over the planes that they’re replacing, as currently A330-200s can accommodate 243 passengers, A330-300s can accommodate 292 passengers, and 777-200ERs can accommodate 316 passengers. So even the smaller A350-900 variant will he higher capacity than the largest plane being replaced.
I don’t think this is surprising, but KLM isn’t going for a particularly premium layout here in terms of the distribution of business class seats vs. economy seats. For example, Air France’s new A350-900s have 48 business class seats, so that’s a much bigger premium cabin. Obviously that reflects that Paris has a lot more premium demand than Amsterdam.
KLM is expected to take delivery of its first Airbus A350 in 2026. The airline will fly both the A350-900 and A350-1000, though the exact number of planes, plus the breakdown between the variants, isn’t yet known. These planes will be in fairly dense three cabin layouts, with 331-391 seats.
I’m curious to see just how many A350s KLM takes delivery of, and how many of those will be for the larger A350-1000 variant. I imagine any potential slot restrictions at Schiphol Airport (if/when they’re implemented) could impact the exact breakdown.
What do you make of KLM’s Airbus A350 plans?