Air France-KLM is currently in discussions with both Airbus and Boeing, ahead of an anticipated order of around 160 jets, headed for its Dutch subsidiary’s fleet.
The order will consist of a mix of Boeing 737s and Airbus A320neo jets, the mid-sized narrow-body workhorse of each respective planemaker.
The imminent order was revealed in an interview with Air France-KLM chief executive Ben Smith in the Het Financieele Daglad paper on Monday, as the carrier plans to expand its low-cost Dutch subsidiary’s – Transavia – single-aisle fleet.
“We’ve done a little bit in this area, it’s been on the agenda since 2004, but it’s never been put in place as it is now,” Smith told the publication.
“I am very pleased to be able to put together this order, the largest in the group’s history.”
Currently, the wholly-owned subsidiary of KLM, part of Air France- KLM, only operates Boeing 737-800 jets on short and mid-range routes, and the destined order of 160 aircraft will comprise of more 737s and competitor Airbus’s A320neo narrow-body series.
Smith explained the expansions will assist the airline to bounce back from its severe economic hit due to the pandemic and see it triple the number of jets based in France as it lost market share to other low-cost competitors.
Last year, Air France and KLM lost €7.1 billion (US$8.5 billion), despite receiving billions in government financial aid.
No comment from Airbus and Boeing has been made yet.
This announcement follows a slew of major airlines across the globe penning mammoth aircraft orders in the past few months, as the aviation industry gets back on its feet once again.
This includes the resurgence of the 737 MAX after its 20-month groundings when 346 people were killed in separate jet failure instances, as various airlines have placed orders for the model in recent days – currently, the European planemaker has a backlog of around 400 jets.
After much anticipation, last month United Airlines, one of the US’s top carriers confirmed its order of 270 narrow-bodied jets, spread across both Boeing and Airbus, in a deal worth over US$30 billion.
The deal is confirmed to include a total of 70 Airbus A321neo aircraft, as well as 200 Boeing 737 MAX jets.
Southwest Airlines also announced last month it had increased its Boeing 737 MAX 7 order, the smallest variant in the MAX family, by an additional 34 jets.
The US airline said it will exercise options to increase its firm orders on the jet, bringing its total MAX 7 firm orders to 234 aircraft.
Only yesterday, Ryanair, the Irish low-budget carrier CEO Michael O’Leary said not one customer had requested to change their flight from a 737 MAX since the airline introduced the type, after promising passengers they could if uncomfortable in a policy earlier in June.
This occurred not long after the awaited jet delivered to Ryanair, following a two-year delay which sparked a loss of confidence in the planemaker.
While Boeing’s 737 comeback is promising, Airbus has also shown steady success, especially in the Month of June, boasting a net total of 38 new orders, despite various cancellations. This is a dramatic jump from seeing zero orders last June.
Air France is expecting a delivery of 60 Airbus A220’s in September for its short-haul routes, however, this model would be too small for the KLM and Transavia, according to Bloomberg.