KLM has time to prepare for the introduction of Airbus narrowbodies into its fleet, chief executive Pieter Elbers said today, and will take learning points from other carriers who have been through similar transitions. 

Air France-KLM placed firm orders for 100 A320neo-family jets with 60 options in December last year, with the replacement of Boeing 737-family jets at KLM and Transavia in mind.

With the first aircraft from the order expected in late 2023 or early 2024, “that means we still have time for preparation”, says Elbers during an Air France-KLM earnings briefing.

KLM Airbus A320neo rendering

Source: Airbus

A computer rendering of an Airbus A320neo in KLM colours

“We are not the first airline going through a transition like this – we’ve got support and we have some learnings from other airlines,” he adds of a programme that is expected to span 2024-2030. 

Elbers further notes that with Transavia Netherlands joining KLM in the transition from Boeing to Airbus types, “we have the opportunity by both operating out of Schiphol to optimise the influx of new aircraft and do it in an optimal way”.

Ultimately, “we are not concerned” about the process, says the KLM chief, who is due to step down in May 2023.

Cirium fleets data shows that KLM has 46 737s in its fleet, while Transavia Netherlands has 38 and Transavia France 51.

The carriers’ defection to Airbus marked the second such move in close succession following a similar announcement from Qantas one day earlier.