Air France-KLM has finalized its order with Airbus for four A350F freighters with purchase rights for an additional four aircraft after signing a Letter of Intent (LOI) in December.
Designed with a 109 tonnes payload capability, the A350F aircraft will increase Air France’s cargo capacity. Based on the A350, the A350F will feature a large main deck cargo door and a fuselage length optimized for cargo operations.
Over 70% of the airframe is made of advanced materials resulting in 30 tonnes lighter take-off weight, which together with efficient Rolls-Royce engines generate advantage of at least 20% lower fuel burn and CO2 over its current closest competitor, said Airbus.
The A350F serves all cargo markets and is in the large freighter category the only new generation freighter aircraft ready for the enhanced ICAO CO₂ emissions standards.
“Airlines now have a choice, and we salute Air France for 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 Christian Scherer, Airbus chief commercial officer and head of Airbus International.
These aircraft will be operated by Air France and be based at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport, the airline’s global hub. They will increase Air France’s cargo capacity, which currently consists of two Boeing 777Fs, supplementing the belly capacity of the airline’s 100+ wide-body passenger aircraft.
“This order embodies Air France-KLM’s determination to strengthen its position on the buoyant cargo business,” said Benjamin Smith, chief executive of Air France-KLM. “The Airbus A350 passenger version has been instrumental to the improvement of our economic and environmental performance while proving to be a passenger’s favourite. 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.”
In December, Singapore Airlines (SIA) signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with Airbus to purchase seven A350Fs, with options to order another five aircraft, while in November, CMA CGM has signed up for four A350Fs.
Air Lease also placed a provisional order for seven A350Fs in November, making it the launch customer for Airbus’ new freighter programme.