KLM will split its widebody fleet renewal programme between Airbus and Boeing, with a two-phase acquisition of 747-400ER Freighters and 777-200ERs, and later A330-200s, to replace its 34 747 Classics, 767s and MD-11s. Although the acquisition and numbers have not been finalised, the new aircraft are expected to be taken through operating lease and direct purchase.

The renewal programme's first phase has been finalised and will begin late next year, when deliveries will start of eight 777-200ERs to replace its 10 747 Classic passenger models (seven -200 Stretched Upper Deck (SUD) and three -300 models). The airline's two 747-200 SUD freighters will be replaced by three 747-400ERFs, and KLM says that all its 747 Classics will have been retired before 2005. The details of the financing for phase one of the programme will be unveiled at KLM's results briefing on 8 May.

The second phase, which KLM is still negotiating with suppliers, will involve the replacement of its 10 MD-11s and 12 767-300ERs (the latter leased from International Lease Finance), with A330-200s and additional 777-200ERs.

KLM is traditionally a General Electric customer, with its entire widebody fleet currently equipped with the US manufacturer's CF6 engine. However the airline says it has not finalised negotiations with engine suppliers for the new aircraft.

After completing the programme in 2010, KLM will have reduced the its widebody fleet types from four to three, with the Boeing 747-400 being operated in all-passenger, combi and freighter configurations.

Source: Flight International