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Air France-KLM firms up order for four Airbus A350 freighters

Aviation Updates Philippines – Air France-KLM has firmed up an order for four Airbus A350 freighters with purchase rights for an additional four aircraft, the airline announced on Tuesday, April 12th.

Photo by Airbus

The A350Fs will be operated by Air France, which already has 16 Airbus A350 passenger aircraft in its fleet.

The airline group first announced its intent to acquire the aircraft in December of 2021 alongside an order for 100 Airbus A320neo family aircraft intended for KLM, with options for 60 more.

This order brings up the number of Airbus A350F customers to four and the number of aircraft on order to 22. Other A350F customers include Air Lease, Singapore Airlines, and CMA CGM.

"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," said Airbus chief commercial officer Christian Scherer.

According to Air France-KLM, the A350Fs will help increase Air France's cargo capacity and supplement the belly capacity of the airline's more than 100 widebody passenger aircraft.

At present, Air France has two Boeing 777Fs in its fleet, while KLM has four Boeing 747 freighters, all operated by Air France-KLM subsidiary Martinair. 

The A350F will join the Air France fleet in 2025, replacing the Boeing 777F.

"This order embodies Air France-KLM's determination to strengthen its position on the buoyant cargo business," said Air France-KLM CEO Benjamin Smith. "The Airbus A350 passenger version has been instrumental to the improvement of our economic and environmental performance, while proving to be a passenger's favorite. 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."

The Airbus A350F, launched in 2021 at the Dubai Airshow, will have a 109t payload capability, three tonnes more than its closest competitor. According to Airbus, more than 70% of the aircraft will be made of advanced materials, resulting in a 30 tonnes lighter take-off weight. This, together with more efficient Rolls Royce engines, will give it the advantage of a 20% reduction in fuel burn and CO2 emissions over its rival.

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