Air France Takes Delivery Of Its First Airbus A350

Air France has received its first A350-900 at an event in Toulouse this morning.

The A350-900, registered F-HTYA, is the first of 28 on order for the carrier. The aircraft will begin service on the 7th October, flying to Abidjan and Mali.

Air France A350
Air France has taken delivery of its first A350. Photo: Air France

Flight Global report CEO of Air France, Anne Rigail, as saying,

“The arrival of this first A350 marks a new phase in Air France’s fleet modernisation strategy. Within five years, more than half of the company’s fleet will be made up of new-generation aircraft.”

The A350 delivery for Air France

The first Air France A350, registered F-HTYA, has been delivered at a ceremony in Toulouse. Although Air France doesn’t tend to name its aircraft, this first A350 for the airline has been christened ‘Toulouse’. Air France becomes the third French airline to take delivery of the A350, after Air Caraibes and French Bee.

Although the airline officially took delivery of the A350 last week, the official ceremony and flight to Charles de Gaulle airport happened today. Present at the ceremony were numerous Air France executives, including Ben Smith and Anne Rigail. Christian Scherer, CCO of Airbus, was also at the event.

Air France A350 at Toulouse
The Air France A350 at Toulouse. Photo: Airbus

Flight Global report Air France-KLM group chief Ben Smith as commenting on the delivery,

“This [aircraft] forms a foundation for our future standardised and more streamlined fleet. Obviously we are focusing heavily on economic performance in these very tough times we operate in and the environmental performance of this aircraft is second to none. The simplification of our fleet is key and this airplane can fly to any of our long-haul routes, all the way to Santiago and Singapore, our two longest routes.”

F-HTYA has actually taken a number of flights already, five in total, for the purposes of testing and customer acceptance. You can watch the aircraft getting its coat of gleaming paint in the video below.

This is the first of 28 A350-900s on order for Air France, a number which received a boost after KLM’s A350 orders were transferred to the airline earlier this year.

What can we expect from the Air France A350-900?

The A350 for Air France has been arranged with a total of 324 seats, including 34 business class and 24 premium economy. The business class cabin has had a complete redesign, employing the Zodiac Optima seat from Safran. This is a new product to the Air France fleet, and marks a much needed improvement in the carrier’s premium offering.

Air France A350 business
The new business class on the A350. Photo: Air France

The cabin is arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration, giving that all important direct aisle access to every passenger. Similar to Virgin, the screens in business class will be huge, at 18.5”, and powered by Safran’s RAVE IFE.

Premium economy on the Air France A350
Premium economy on the Air France A350. Photo: Air France

The economy and premium economy cabins are the same found on other long haul aircraft. In premium, that’s a 2-4-2 arrangement and in economy a 3-3-3 layout. All passengers will have access to WiFi via Air France CONNECT, which offers a free messaging only connection, then two paid connections which vary in price depending on the length of the flight.

Where will it fly?

This A350 is slated to start work on October 7th, flying to Abidjan and Mali from Paris. When the second A350 is delivered, the airline plans to put it into service between Paris and Toronto from the 27th October. Finally, with the arrival of the third, Air France will serve Cairo and Seoul, beginning 7th December. Other destinations slated for service include Bangkok, expected to begin next summer.

Air France A350 wingtips
The first flights will be to Mali and Abidjan. Photo: Airbus

Altogether, Air France will receive three A350s before the end of the year. Three more are expected to be in operation in time for the next summer season, and 11  will join the fleet before the end of 2021.