In 2012, financially-troubled Air France-KLM outlined a plan (Transform 2015) to reach the goal of returning its Air France operations to profitability after years of losses. The plan called for changes throughout the Air France operation, but focused particularly on restructuring short- and medium-haul operations to compete profitably in Europe, and “accelerating the transformation of freight.” Much of this was to be accomplished through headcount reductions (a touchy subject in France), but on the cargo side the how-to part was vague, with the exception of one concrete action: reduce the Air France freighter fleet from five units to four.
More from Mr. Gagey below, but first it is interesting to compare Air France-KLM’s current freighter fleet plan with its plan from five years ago. At that time, Air France was looking ahead to the arrival of the five 777 Freighters it had ordered from Boeing, and the retirement of its remaining two 747-200Fs. As shown in the chart at right, this would have given the carrier a 15-unit freighter fleet in 2010. Sister carrier KLM (including Martinair) would also have 15, for a combined total of 30 – the largest jet freighter fleet in the world after FedEx and UPS. Five years later, as AF-KLM looks ahead to 2015, the picture has changed considerably, with the Air France fleet cut by 87% to just two units (three of the five 777Fs were sold even before delivery), while the KLM/Martinair fleet will be cut 33% to ten freighters.