Air France-KLM splits deal between rivals

POSTED: 09/18/11 11:20 PM

THE NETHERLANDS – Air France-KLM has split a new eight-billion order for 50 new aircraft between Boeing and Airbus. The move is part of a plan to renew the fleet of Europe’s largest airline and the order could rise to 110 of the next-generation aircraft. Airbus said it expected to receive 35 of these 60 options.

The 200 and 350-seater planes will be gradually replaced by the latest generation of long-range jets. Air France-KLM said it aimed to operate 73 of the 250 to 300-seat aircraft by 2024, including 43 Airbus A350-900 and 30 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner models.

Political pressure
The deal follows months of politically sensitive negotiations. The airline appeared to be pulled between pressure from French politicians to protect jobs at Toulouse-based Airbus and its own differences with Airbus over what caused the 2009 mid-Atlantic crash of an Airbus jet. The airline believes pilots have been wrongly blamed.

CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon said the orders had been placed following “a detailed analysis of the qualities of the aircraft”.

Production delays
Boeing is delivering its first 787 Dreamliner to Japanese airline All Nippon Airways next week after three years of production delays as it switched from aluminum to lightweight carbon composites. The first Boeing 787-9 will enter into service with KLM in 2016, and the first Airbus A350-900 with Air France in 2018.

Rolls-Royce benefits
The plane order guarantees business for Britain’s Rolls-Royce to provide power for the A350-900, for which it makes the only engines currently on offer.


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