Air France has outlined their fleet replacement program. Out will go the airlines A318 and A319 aircraft and in will come up to 120 A220-300’s. The first of which is expected to arrive in 2021, so those wishing to log the increasingly rare A318 have a couple of years to do so.
Benjamin Smith, CEO of the Air France-KLM Group commented:
“The acquisition of these brand new A220-300s aligns perfectly with Air France–KLM’s overall fleet modernisation and harmonisation strategy.This aircraft demonstrates optimum operational and economic efficiency and enables us to further improve our environment footprint thanks to the A220’s low fuel consumption and reduced emissions. It is also perfectly adapted to our domestic and European network and will enable Air France to operate more efficiently on its short and medium-haul routes.”
Air France is currently the largest operator of the unpopular smallest member of the A320 series with 18 in service. Colombian Avianca operates 10 of the type, with TAROM having 4 and British Airways operating a single example.
With regards to the A319, the airline has 33 of the type on its books delivered between 1997 and 2006. Whilst that sub type was more popular, over the recent years it has fallen out of favour – to the point where the updated A319neo hasn’t received a single order for a passenger type.
The Air France order comes as the latest boost for the A220 series. Initially launched as the Bombardier CSeries in 2015, initially the type struggled to attract sales. With firm orders from only Swiss, Air Baltic and Korean Air the future of the type was in doubt until Delta Airlines threw the type a lifeline by placing an order for 75 aircraft in 2016. To date, the type is only in service with those four carriers along with a pair of examples in service with Air Tanzania.
In October 2017 it was announced that Airbus would acquire a 50.01% stake in the CSeries program, with the type being rebranded the Airbus A220 in July 2018. Since the rebrand, the type has attracted more customers with Air Canada, EgyptAir, JetBlue and new US startup Moxy.
More information on the Airbus A220 can be found via the Airbus website: https://www.airbus.com/aircraft/passenger-aircraft/a220-family.html
End of the line for the airlines A380
Also announced by Air France was that they would retire their entire Airbus A380 fleet by 2022. The airline didn’t announce what would be replacing that type. With both the Boeing 777 in the fleet currently and the Airbus A350 on order it would be worth betting that the next generation Boeing 777X or the A350-1000 could be joining the fleet.