KLM still operates 12 passenger 747-400’s (including 8 M versions), and they were due to be retired by 2021-22 but they will now remain, until at least 2022-23.
KLM has long suffered as part of the AF-KLM group, and the group has determined that KLM too, will have to pay the penalty for its involvement with Air France. KLM is also suffering from the threat of imminent industrial action by pilots.
KLM is now deferring its A350 deliveries (25 are on order for the AF-KLM Group), and they won’t enter service until 2021 and complete by 2023. The intention was to replace the 744’s with A350’s and 787-10’s by the end of 2022.
Some analysts are expecting the delay to be extended further if the incessantly troubled group carries on as it is. Air France is under a cloud, as it’s recently hired a Canadian CEO – which has gone down like a lead balloon with unions and staff alike, as well as being criticised by Government.
Air France ended 744 operations back in January 2017, but enthusiasts will be delighted that the 744 continues for a year longer with KLM.
However there is a 744 dark cloud now looming – the KLM decision means that all three European main operators, British Airways, Lufthansa and KLM will terminate 744 operations in the same year if current intentions are retained. In addition to that Lufthansa is expecting to start ending 748i operations – the aircraft were allocated only a ten-year operational life. Lufthansa cut their order from 25 to 19 and remains dissatisfied with their economy.