KLM to delay retirement of 747 fleet

klm 747

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has announced plans to delay the retirement of its fleet of Boeing 747 aircraft.

The move comes as the Dutch carrier pushes back the delivery schedule of its Airbus A350-900s. The airline now expects to receive its first order of the latest Airbus widebodies in 2021, a year later than originally planned.

“We always said we expected our A350s between 2020 and 2022. Last year we said the first one would arrive in 2020, now we expect this to be in 2021,” a spokesman for the Dutch carrier told AIN. The schedule reflects current plans, he noted, pointing out the airline’s fleet development is a “dynamic process” and KLM continuously reviews and adjusts fleet plans.

The spokesperson added that KLM will continue operating its 747-400s for slightly longer to compensate, with the phase-out now scheduled to end around 2021.

KLM currently operates a total of 12 Boeing 747-400 combis, one fewer than at the end 2017. One further unit is set to retire in November as part of Air France- KLM’s strategy to gradually replace all its four-engine widebody aircraft with Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 twinjets.

The Franco-Dutch company has placed a firm order with Airbus for 28 A350-900s, of which seven are set to head to KLM. Air France expects to receive its first A350 in the second half of next year, coinciding with the retirement of its six A340-300s. The type is set to be completely removed from service by the end of 2020.