Air France-KLM re-issues 787/A350 RFP

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Air France-KLM is re-issuing the request for proposal it sent Airbus and Boeing last year for up to 100 new medium widebodies in hopes of receiving more specific answers, including fixed delivery dates.

ATI reported in May that Air France-KLM remains committed to placing major orders for Airbus A350s and/or Boeing 787s but was frustrated with both manufacturers inability to provide fixed delivery dates.

KLM CEO Peter Hartman told ATI last week the airline group is now "re-finalising the RFP", and he is confident the manufacturers will this time provide the information sought.

"We're going to have answers on the delivery dates and details on specifications for between 80 and 100 airplanes for the coming 10 years for the group," Hartman says.

He adds "the process is ongoing" and "our specialists are working hard to get the information, specifically the slots".

Hartman expects Air France-KLM will be able to negotiate contracts with the two manufacturers "in the coming months".

The original RFP sent to Airbus and Boeing at the end of last summer resulted in answers that Air France-KLM "weren't completely happy with. The point is we couldn't get clear answers on delivery dates. The other important issue is if it was possible to have two engine choices on these airplanes. The 787 has now confirmed you can have two different types of engines," Hartman explains.

He says KLM specifically "would love planes in 2013 and 2014". He says the first batch of new medium widebodies acquired by the group would be used to replace KLM's Boeing 747-400 Combis and the second batch would be used to replace KLM's Boeing MD-11s.

The need for new medium widebodies is not as pressing at the Air France unit, which has a newer widebody fleet than KLM. The new widebodies would be used to eventually replace Air France's A330 and A340 fleets.

Air France CEO and Air France-KLM group CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon says 2013 or 2014 slots are not critical. "We'll see what we get. We're not in a hurry," Gourgeon told ATI last week. "We have very good aircraft and we have the newest fleet in Europe so we're not in a hurry."

Gorgeon expects Airbus and Boeing will be able to provide the proposals Air France is looking for within the next "few months".

According to Flightglobal's ACAS database, Air France operates 15 A330-200s, 18 A340-300s and 25 777-200ERs. KLM operates 17 747-400 Combis, 10 MD-11s and 15 777-200ERs.

KLM also has a widebody freighter fleet consisting of seven MD-11Fs and four Boeing 747-400ERFs, including aircraft operated by its Martinair subsidiary. Hartman says two of these 11 freighters "for the moment" are not operating.

When KLM acquired the remaining stake in Martinair at the end of 2008 its freighter fleet grew to 15 aircraft, including KLM's own four 747-400ERFs and 11 MD-11Fs from Martinair. But Hartman says "four went back or we are trying to bring. them back to the lessor, meaning we keep seven MD-11s and four 747-400ERFs".