A total of 14 airlines around the world operate both the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787. Stretching across the globe, these airlines utilize both of the competing jets, though some use each plane for a different purpose. While most carriers like to stick to a single type of widebody, a diverse widebody fleet can have some benefits.
The Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 are competing jets. Both are widebodies that are ideal for long-haul and some ultra-long-haul routes. Some prestigious A350 routes include between Singapore and New York using the specialized Airbus A350-900ULR while the 787 can do Perth to London nonstop.
First up, alphabetically, is Air China. In the airline’s interim results for 2020, the 700-plane strong airline noted that it operates both the Airbus A350 and the Boeing 787. There are ten A350-900s in the carrier’s fleet and 14 Boeing 787-9s. Air China expects to take a further 15 A350-900s by the end of 2022.
Air China uses both aircraft primarily for long-haul missions, though they also do fly some high-profile and high-demand domestic routes. Air China outfits its A350-900s in a 312-seat configuration with 32 lie-flat reverse herringbone business class seats, 24 premium economy seats, and 256 standard economy seats. The 787-9s are outfitted with 30 forward-facing business class seats (the airline’s standard product), 34 premium economy seats, and 229 economy seats for a total of 293 seats.
Heading over to Europe next, Air France has got both the Boeing 787-9 and Airbus A350-900. Data from Airbus shows that Air France operates six A350-900s while the airline has 10 Boeing 787-9s in its fleet. Air France has completed deliveries of its 787-9s and expects to have a total of 38 A350-900s once deliveries are complete.
Air France uses both the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787s on long-haul routes across the globe to destinations in North and South America, Africa, and Asia. The planes are ideally suited for those missions. There are 324 seats on Air France’s A350s with 34 business class seats, which are a brand new product for the carrier, 24 premium economy seats, and 266 economy seats. The 787-9s seat 276 with 30 reverse herringbone business class seats, 21 premium economy seats, and 225 economy seats.
British Airways operates all three variants of the Boeing 787. At the same time, it also flies the Airbus A350-1000, the largest variant currently on offer of the A350 XWB family. Planespotters.net shows that British Airways has six A350-1000s and 32 Boeing 787s. The 787s consist of two Boeing 787-10s, 12 787-8s, and 18 787-9s.
The 787-8s seat 214 in a three-class configuration, the 787-9s only seat two more with 216 passengers, but those planes are in a four-class layout. The 787-10s are also in a four-class configuration with room for 256 onboard. The A350-1000s, meanwhile, seat 331 in a three-class configuration.
All of these aircraft serve various purposes. Flying mostly long-haul, the A350 is flying to some of British Airways’ top destinations such as Dubai, Toronto, and Tel Aviv. Meanwhile, the 787s are operating to cities across the spectrum ranging from Rio to Baltimore to Nashville to Delhi, and more.
Back in Asia, Shanghai-based China Eastern operates both the 787 and A350. Planespotters.net shows the carrier using three 787-9s and seven A350-900s. More of each remain on order. The A350s are outfitted in a four-class configuration, seating 288 passengers while the 787-9s, also in a four-class configuration, seat 285.
China Eastern’s 787s are found on plenty of domestic routes with some limited international services. The A350s are far more likely to be found on long-haul international routes to cities like Frankfurt, Amsterdam, and others, although the A350 does join the 787 on operating a plethora of domestic routes as well.
Rounding out the big three Chinese airlines is China Southern. Planespotters.net shows that the Guangzhou-based carrier operates 25 Boeing 787s, comprised of 10 787-8s and 15 787-9s. There are also six Airbus A350-900s in the airline’s fleet. The 787-9s come in two different configurations. One is in a three-class setup with room for up to 256 while the other seats 297 in a two-class configuration. The 787-8s are all two-class with a maximum capacity of 266 passengers. As for the A350, those jets are in a three-class configuration seating 312.
All of these aircraft operate a mix of long-haul international, short-haul international, and short-haul domestic operations. Given the massive size of the Chinese domestic market, this is not very surprising.
African giant Ethiopian Airlines is another high-profile 787 and A350 operator. Data from Planespotters.net indicates that the airline operates 14 A350-900s, 19 787-8s, and seven 787-9s.
The A350s seat 30 passengers in Cloud Nine lie-flat business class and 318 in economy for a total capacity of 348. The 787-9s seat 315 with 30 in business and 285 in economy. Finally, the 787-8s have 24 business class seats and 246 economy class seats for a total capacity of 270 passengers.
The 787s and A350s operate primarily long-haul services. The 787 is notable for operating Ethiopian’s Addis Ababa to Newark via Lome route, flights to Europe like London, some to Asia, including Hong Kong, and other African routes like Johannesburg. The Airbus A350s also operate a similar array of routes, including high-demand routes in Africa, flights to India, London, some to the Middle East, and China.
Back in China, Hainan Airlines is another major airline that operates both the Dreamliners and A350s. Planespotters.net clocks the airline with two A350-900s and 38 Boeing 787s, split into 10 of the 787-8 and 28 of the 787-9.
The A350-900 comes in one configuration seating 334 with 33 staggered forward-facing business class seats, followed by 301 economy class seats, of which 108 have extra legroom. Hainan’s 787-8 comes in one flavor, seating 36 in business class and 177 in coach, for a total of 213 passengers.
The 787-9 comes in three configurations. One seats 289 with 30 in forward-facing business class and 259 in coach. Another seats 292 with 30 in reverse herringbone business class, 36 in premium economy, and 226 in economy. The final has a maximum capacity of 294 with 26 in reverse herringbone business class, 21 in economy, and 247 in economy.
The A350 has, thus far, flown mostly domestic flights, though they do fly some international long-hauls. The 787s, while they do also fly a fair bit of domestic hops, also operate most of the airline’s long-haul international destinations.
Number nine on our list is Japan Airlines. Planespotters.net shows the airline with six A350-900s, 27 787-8s, and 20 787-9s.
The A350-900s serve domestic routes with capacity either for 391 or 369 depending on the aircraft. Meanwhile, the 787-9s are dedicated to international services with capacity for 239, 203, or 195, depending on the configuration. These jets are some of the most comfortable in the world, according to some passengers. Lastly, the 787-8s serve both domestic and international routes. The domestic 787-8s have seating for 291, while internationally, these have either 186 or 203 passengers.
South America’s LATAM comes up next. The giant carrier operates subsidiaries across the continent and operates 787-8s, 787-9s, and A350-900s. Planespotters.net shows the airline group with 11 A350-900s, ten 787-8s, and 12 787-9s.
All of these aircraft operate international long-haul flights. However, you will find these jets out of different countries. The A350s mainly fly out of Brazil while the 787s are staples on long-hauls out of Chile. These planes operate to cities around the world, such as Johannesburg, Madrid, Paris, Frankfurt, Miami, and more. The 787-9s seat 313 passengers, the 787-8s seat 247, and the A350 comes in with the greatest capacity at 339 passengers.
This iconic Middle Eastern carrier currently is flying 34 Airbus A350-900s, 18 A350-1000s, and 30 787-8s, and has seven stored 787-9s according to data from Flightradar24.
All of these jets are well-known on the airline’s long-haul routes. Two A350-900 configurations seat 283 passengers with 36 business and 247 in coach, though one of those has reverse herringbone seats while the other has the airline’s QSuite. The A350-1000s seat 327 with 46 in QSuites and 281 standard economy seats. Lastly, the Boeing 787-8s flying for Qatar Airways are outfitted with 254 seats spread across 22 in business reverse-herringbone and 232 in economy.
Singapore Airlines is flying 48 A350-900s (of which seven are the A350-900ULR variant) and 15 Boeing 787-10s, according to data from Boeing and Airbus.
The A350-900s come in three variants. The Ultra Long Range (ULR) variant, which flies the world’s longest route to Newark, seat only 161 passengers with 67 in business class and 94 in premium economy. Then, there is the airline’s long-haul A350-900 with 42 in business class, 24 in premium economy, and 187 in economy.
This jet is flying to long-haul destinations, like Johannesburg, where Simple Flying got to check out the plane. Lastly, Singapore also has a medium-haul version of the A350, with 303 passengers spread across 40 in business and 263 in economy. Meanwhile, the 787-10 only operates regional routes out of Singapore with 36 business class seats and 301 in economy.
The flag carrier of Thailand is also flying both the A350 and 787. According to the airline, it is operating 12 Airbus A350-900s, seating 321 in a two-class configuration. There are only two Boeing 787-9s in the airline’s fleet, seating 298 in a two-class configuration. And, seating 256 passengers, also in a two-class configuration, are the carrier’s six Boeing 787-8s.
All three aircraft perform a variety of short and medium-haul international flights across East and Southeast Asia. While, for long-haul services, the airline uses the planes to fly to Australia and New Zealand and Europe.
Not far from Thailand, Vietnam’s flag carrier operates the A350-900, Boeing 787-9, and Boeing 787-10. Flightradar24 shows 14 A350s, 11 787-9s, and four 787-10s in the carrier’s fleet.
The 787-10 seats 367 passengers with 24 in business class and 343 in economy. Meanwhile, the 787-9 comes in two flavors. One is three-class, seating 274 with 28 in business, 35 in premium economy, and 211 in coach. This is the variant Simple Flying got a chance to fly from Sydney to Vietnam.
The other has a capacity of 311 with 28 in business and 283 in economy. As for the Airbus A350, that also comes in two flavors with one seating passengers with 29 in business class, 45 in premium economy, and 231 in coach. The other has 29 business class seats, 36 premium economy seats, and 240 economy seats, seating 305 total.
Both the A350s and 787s fly across the airline’s route network to regional destinations, like Seoul, to far-away destinations like London, Paris, and others.
Closing out our list at number 14 is Virgin Atlantic. The UK airline has a relatively streamlined fleet with five A350-1000s and 17 787-9s according to data from Planespotters.net.
Virgin’s A350-1000 was the first in the airline’s fleet to debut a new Upper Class (business class) product. There are 44 lie-flat business class seats onboard, followed by 56 premium economy seats.
Finally, at the rear, there are 235 economy class seats for a total capacity of 335 onboard. As for the 787-9s, these jets have the airline’s older business class product with 31 herringbone-style seats onboard, followed by 35 premium economy seats and 192 economy class seats for a total capacity of 258.
All of Virgin’s routes are long-haul or medium-haul international. The A350 operates some of the most prestigious routes to New York, Los Angeles, and more. The 787 flies most of the rest of the longer routes, including soon to Pakistan.
Which of these airlines is your favorite? Do you prefer the 787 or the A350? Let us know in the comments!