The first Airbus A220-300 for Air France has received its full-livery recently at the Airbus Canada factory in Mirabel. The aircraft will now be prepared for her post-assembly test flights before she is delivered to the airline in late September. Air France prepares for Airbus A220 arrival.

Air France shared a video of the painting of what will be F-HZUA, the first of sixty A220s that the airline has ordered at the 2019 Paris Airshow. Back then, it was still a Memorandum of Understanding, but this has been confirmed later that year. Air France also has thirty options plus thirty purchase rights.

Despite the troubled financial situation Air France-KLM has found itself in since the start of the pandemic, the group remains committed to fleet renewal to replace older and less efficient aircraft with newer models with lower fuel burn and lower carbon emissions to reduce its footprint. The A220-300s will replace older Airbus eighteen A318s and 33 A319s. 

While the A220s will join the fleet only from September, Air France has been preparing for their arrival for a year. In September 2020, eight instructor pilots have been trained to fly the type. They currently train more pilots, including 28 more instructors. All training is done at the airline’s facilities at Paris Charles de Gaulle, but once the first aircraft has arrived, the pilots will commence some twenty training flights with the actual aircraft to obtain type rating.

To fly the sixty A220s, the carrier will need some 700 pilots and 2.500 cabin crew. The first group of fourteen attendants was trained in Zurich between September and December 2020. Like the first pilots, they have subsequently trained moe colleagues.
Air France has reserved at least a month of cockpit and cabin crew familiarization flights before the A220 enters commercial service, so expect these to continue until late October or early November.

The arrival of the A220s fulfils Air France’s short-haul fleet requirements, just as that of the A350-900 cover the long-haul requirements that include the replacement of the retired A380s. Yet to be decided is what will replace the carrier’s A320/A321 fleet. Air France-KLM recently confirmed that it has issued requests for proposals from Airbus and Boeing for the replacement and fleet expansion of KLM’s Boeing 737-fleet as well as that of Transavia and Transavia France.  

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Richard Schuurman
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Active as journalist since 1987, starting with regional newspaper Zwolse Courant. Grand Prix reporter in 1997 at Dutch monthly Formule 1, general reporter Lelystad/Flevoland at De Stentor/Dagblad Flevoland, from 2002 until June 2021 radio/tv reporter/presentor with Omroep Flevoland.
Since mid-2016 freelance aviation journalist, since June 2021 fully dedicated to aviation. Reporter/editor AirInsight since December 2018. Contributor to Airliner World, Piloot & Vliegtuig. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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