Air France will deploy Boeing 787s to several African destinations during the winter 2017/18 season as its Dreamliner fleet grows.
The airline on 19 April received its second 787-9 from Boeing and is scheduled to operate five of the type by year-end. The aircraft (registration F-HRBB) is the first owned by Air France, with its initial 787 – delivered in December 2016 – having been leased from AerCap.
Speaking to FlightGlobal on the aircraft's delivery flight from Boeing's Charleston plant to Paris, Air France vice-president fleet management Nicolas Bertrand said the airline plans to start serving Bamako, Conakry and Nouakchott – the capitals of Mali, Guinea and Mauritania, respectively – and Abidjan in Cote d'Ivoire with 787s during the next winter season.
Boston is to become the first US destination during that season. Air France's first 787 has been deployed on the Paris-Cairo route, and additionally operates a daily return flight to London Heathrow for pilot familiarisation with the aircraft. The second 787 will serve Montreal in Canada from 1 May, and operate domestic flights to Lyon.
All long-haul flights will be operated from Air France's Paris Charles de Gaulle hub. Bertrand says the airline has no plans to start long-haul flights with the 787 from secondary French cities.
Air France's present delivery schedule foresees two 787s joining the fleet in 2018, says Bertrand. He adds the airline's plan "at this point" is to eventually operate 16 787s – 13 owned and three leased – he says. Meanwhile, group partner carrier KLM is set to have 21 787s, including nine leased aircraft.
All leased aircraft are coming from AerCap. Air France will exclusively operate 787-9s, while KLM's fleet is to include seven 787-10s.
The 787-9 – which Air France has configured with 276 seats in a three-class layout – has been introduced to replace the carrier's Airbus A340 fleet. Flight Fleet Analyzer shows Air France has nine A340-300s. The four-engined aircraft are to be phased out in 2018, with some of them having been earmarked for temporary deployment at Air France's projected low-cost unit Boost.
Bertrand says the 787 will not be used to replace A330s. Indeed, the latter fleet – comprising 15 A330-200s – will undergo a cabin upgrade programme beginning in late 2018, Bertrand reveals.