Today Air Caraibes took delivery of its very first Airbus A350-1000. The -1000 variant is the largest member of the A350XWB Family. Air Caraibes already operates three A350-900s and six A330s on routes between Paris and the French Caribbean. While this aircraft will soon begin commercial passenger service, it’s already three years old and has already flown all over the world!
The newest addition to Air Caraibes
This latest addition to the Air Caraibes fleet is configured in a three-class layout with 429 seats:
- 24 “Madras” Business
- 45 in “Caraibes” Premium Economy
- 360 in “Soleil” Economy
This A350–1000 joins the existing A350-900s in the Air Caraibes fleet, of which there are three. The -1000 is the longer variant, which adds roughly 7 meters (23 feet) of length over the -900. Typically this extra length would fit about 40 more passengers than the -900.
However, this economy class of this aircraft will feel a little more squished than A350s in other airlines. In fact, the seat width in economy is 16.5 inches as opposed to other airlines that are 17 to 18. Why is this?
Well, the half-inch that’s been taken from each seat, as well as presumably slightly narrower aisles (and armrests?) allows the airline to add an extra seat to each row. In fact, back in 2015 the airline made news as the first 10-abreast A350 customer.
According to ATW Online, this aircraft will be used to boost its winter frequencies – flying between Paris and the French Carribean.
A new delivery of an old plane
If you look closely at the registration of the new plane you’ll see it’s registration is F-WLXV. Search that registration code up and you’ll find in a different livery: The Airbus corporate livery. In fact, according to AirFleets, the aircraft is 2.9 years old despite its recent delivery to Air Caraibes.
According to blog Aviationshotz, this aircraft was on a round-the-world “promotional sales tour” being shown to prospective airlines. Early in the year, it was in Auckland, and flag carrier Air New Zealand got a chance to take a look at it. It has also been to numerous air shows including Paris and Farnborough.
If you’ve ever purchased furniture or electronics, you may sometimes be offered “the showroom model” at a discounted price. This is because showroom versions usually get some light ‘wear and tear’ as prospective customers try it out. It looks like this is the case here – with the three-year-old aircraft getting a paint job and going to an actual airline. We would guess that Air Caraibes received a nice discount for taking this demonstration model into its fleet!
Airbus says that at the end of November 2019, the A350 XWB Family had received 959 firm orders from 51 customers worldwide. Air Caraibes joins a small group of airlines that also own and operate the -1000. This includes British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, and Virgin Atlantic. Although of this group, Air Caraibes is the only one to have 10-abreast seating. This is the first of three A350-1000s the airline has ordered.
Have you flown in Air Caraibes’ 10-abreast economy class? We would love to know how comfortable or uncomfortable it is! Let us know in the comments.