When Air France-KLM and Qantas allow Airbus to beat Boeing

The European aircraft manufacturer ends the year with a bang with a historic order from Air France-KLM and a nice revenge for France on the Australian side.

Air France-Klm surprised by announcing last Thursday its decision to buy only Airbus. A firm order of 100 A 320 and A 321, with an option on 18 additional copies. These planes will replace the Boeing 600 used by KLM and Transavia, both in the Netherlands and in France. With a gain of % on CO2 emissions.

Switching from Boeing to Airbus is a real revolution for the companies concerned. It will be necessary to train the pilots but also the hostesses and stewards and the maintenance teams. It is also a political choice. Without the financial assistance from the State during the health crisis, Air France would have had to go out of business.

In addition, the taxpayer could again be called to the rescue. The Covid pandemic continues to weigh heavily on air traffic . Ordering American planes while asking for the support of the French government would have been particularly unwelcome. And Ben Smith , the CEO of the group, got it right.

Airbus preferred to Boeing to compensate for a “forfeiture”?

The historic order last week of Qantas (in total 134 A 321 and A 134, if we include the options) is it also the result of a politico-diplomatic issue? We are entitled to ask the question, insofar as it occurs three months after this that Emmanuel Macron described as a “forfeiture”, namely the cancellation of the colossal contract of submarines by the Australian government .

However, the Australian flag carrier is not a public company. And the federal government has come under heavy criticism for giving Qantas billions of dollars in public aid without taking a stake. It is therefore difficult to say with certainty that this is compensation offered to France.

Good news also for Toulouse

In any case, these two giant orders are timely for the European aeronautics sector. Thanks to Air France-KLM and Qantas, Airbus ended the year much better than Boeing, knowing that, at the end of November, its order book (planes still to be delivered) was already much larger than that of its American rival: 7036 vs 5095.

The horizon has therefore been fully cleared for Airbus. And this will have consequences from next year on the group’s activity in France. The Toulouse site used to assemble the A 321 will experience a new life as the last copy, ordered by Emirates, was delivered this Thursday. It will be rearranged to produce A 320 and A 321. With the key: 380 jobs, half of which were for subcontractors of Airbus.

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