The Dutch carrier has placed a firm order for four Airbus A350 freighters, with the first of the aircraft arriving in Q3 of 2026, followed by the other units in 2027. Once in operation, they will replace the current Martinair Cargo (MP) fleet of one B747-400BCF and three B747-400 ERFs. The order is also life insurance for the airline, which has had a very checkered history since its inception back in 1958 by Dutch entrepreneur, Martin Schroeder. In 2008, KLM took over Martinair.
The A350F “sets new standards”
KLM Cargo's press release praises the A350F to the skies. The aircraft “emits over 40% less CO₂ and makes 50% less noise than its predecessors.” A comparison that is likely aimed at Martinair's current Boeing freighters, as there is no Airbus-predecessor to the A350F. The release further reads: “It is fitted with an extra-large cargo deck. Lighter materials have been used wherever possible to keep take-off weight to a minimum.” Equipped with efficient Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engines, the aircraft sets new standards in climate protection and noise reduction, a KLM spokesman underlines.
It is suitable for carrying a variety of cargo, including fresh produce, express shipments, pharmaceuticals, horses, and oversized cargo. The maximum payload of the configuration chosen by Martinair, is 108 tons per takeoff.
Accelerating environmental efforts
“Fleet renewal is an important part of KLM's ambition to become more sustainable. In this, we take our responsibility. We want to emit less CO₂ because of the climate and [to] reduce noise for local residents […] That is why we decided to place this order earlier than originally planned. Instead of in 2027, we will replace the [Martinair] freighters from autumn 2026. We are accelerating KLM's sustainability efforts with this,” explains Marjan Rintel, CEO KLM.
Customers sit in the driver’s seat
The aircraft order is in line with latest announcements. For instance, the announcement of Air France-KLM-Martinair Cargo published on 18OCT22, to introduce goSAF, a new alternative for shippers and forwarders to reduce their CO₂ footprint. It puts customers in the driver’s seat, enabling them to set the level of their contribution to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for every single shipment they book on board a flight of the Franco Dutch Group of Airlines. Only days after, on 22NOV22, DHL Global Forwarding and Air France KLM Martinair Cargo agreed on further expanding their sustainability cooperation. Prior to this announcement, both parties had announced a groundbreaking agreement under which DHL committed to purchase 33 million liters of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) from AFKLMP Cargo by 2024. And in mid-DEC22, UK-headquartered Metro Shipping committed to supporting the Franco Dutch carrier’s SAF initiative by investing in the program.
Part of a holistic package
Adriaan den Heijer, Executive VP Air France-KLM Cargo and Managing Director Martinair, points out that the SAF initiative and the aircraft order are part of an overall package: “In choosing the A350F, we are taking an important step to cut CO₂ emissions and noise pollution. I am very pleased with these new, technologically advanced aircraft joining the fleet, which fit well in the Air France KLM Martinair Cargo operation. For our customers, the versatility of the A350F is good news for the future. The new aircraft are an important addition, supplementing the belly capacity of our extensive intercontinental passenger fleet,” the executive states.
Including the order for four A350Fs by Air France Cargo, the Group will operate eight units of this Airbus freighter in the future. Added to this is the capacity of partner CMA CGM's B777 and A330 freighters, which will be fully marketed by AF-KLM-MP Cargo. To this end, the parties intend to sign a joint venture on 26MAR23, based on commercial terms.
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