Air France-KLM mulls order 160 aircraft for low-cost flights

The group is negotiating an order with Airbus and Boeing, which will be used by Transavia, a low-cost subsidiary, and by KLM itself on European routes

The Air France-KLM group acknowledged on Monday that it was negotiating an order for 160 new jets with Boeing and Airbus. The aircraft will be used to expand the network of low-cost flights, divided between KLM and Transavia, the discount division, said Bloomberg.

The deal could be the biggest in the French-Dutch group’s history and would involve choosing between the 737 MAX and the A320neo. The Dutch Transavia currently has 39 737NG jets, 35 of them of the 737-800 variant, while the French division has another 50 737-800.

KLM, on the other hand, would expand its operations in Europe with the new aircraft. Like Transavia, the Dutch carrier is a Boeing customer, with 48 737NG jets. The situation would favor the US planemaker, but on the other hand, Air France’s close relationship with Airbus may balance the dispute.

According to Ben Smith, CEO of Air France-KLM, the expansion of the low-cost flight network is a key element in the post-pandemic recovery. Travel flights have reacted more strongly than the business market after the opening of some countries.

The strategy would also serve as a reaction to the expansion of low-costs EasyJet and RyanAir, which announced quite ambitious plans. The Irish airline even announced that it will hire 2,000 pilots due to the delivery of the new 737 MAX 8-200.

Fleet renewal

KLM Cityhopper E195-E2 (Mark Wagtendonk)

Air France and KLM recently started a renewal of their small-capacity jet fleet. The French carrier has ordered 60 A220-300, the first of which will be delivered in September. KLM Cityhopper, its regional division, is taking delivery of the E195-E2, Embraer regional aircraft, through leasing.

Despite this, both models would have been considered small to serve on low-cost routes.

Air France A220 (Airbus)

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