(Bloomberg) -- Air France-KLM is leaning toward Airbus SE’s A350 widebody model to renew its long-haul fleet, according to people familiar with the airline’s thinking, giving the European planemaker a major commercial win as demand picks up for long-distance travel.
The French airline’s board is meeting today and will decide on the purchase of about 50 of Airbus’s most advanced airliner, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deal hasn’t been finalised. Airbus, Boeing Co. and Air France-KLM declined to comment.
The board of the airline has not signed off on the deal yet, so no agreement is final, the people cautioned. La Tribune reported earlier today that Air France-KLM had chosen Airbus, pending board approval, citing people familiar with the plans.
Air France-KLM had sought between 30 to 50 widebody jets from Airbus SE Boeing to replace its Airbus A330 jets that average 20 years, alongside a batch of two-decade old Boeing 777s, Bloomberg News reported on Sept. 14.
Boeing announced a deal earlier on Monday with Air Canada, which agreed to buy 18 787-10 Dreamliner models. The aircraft will be used to replace older, less efficient wide-body aircraft currently in the Air Canada fleet, and will begin shipping on the fourth quarter of 2025.
Airlines across the world are snapping up widebody jets as long-haul travel rebounds and stretches out waiting lists for newer, more fuel-efficient jets. The carrier has already retired its fleet of Boeing 747s and A380s and has added more modern 787 Dreamliners and Airbus’s A350 aircraft.
Earlier this month, Air France-KLM and Airbus announced plans for a proposed maintenance joint venture for the Airbus A350 aircraft, giving Airbus some leverage in its talks with the Franco-Dutch group. Air France-KLM has historically maintained a relatively split fleet between the two major manufacturers.
A large part of Air France-KLM’s evaluation process included the new reality of having to circumnavigate Russian airspace following the invasion of Ukraine. That detour can add several hours to a flight and changes the requirements for the aircraft, Air France-KLM Chief Executive Officer Ben Smith said in June.
--With assistance from Julie Johnsson.
(Updates with previous order for Boeing in fifth paragraph.)
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