The A350 has once again caught attention with an order for 50 aircraft from Emirates at the Dubai Air Show. Great news if you like the aircraft and are an Emirates regular flyer! But what about in Europe? In this article, we take a quick look at the current options for getting onboard an A350 for European based flyers.
First flown commercially in 2015, the Airbus A350 is quickly becoming popular with both airlines and passengers. It offers much-improved efficiency and longer range operations for airlines, and modern cabins with improved passenger comfort.
There has been a lot of debate about which is the “best” new aircraft, and the A350 is often compared with the Boeing 787. In reality, this is a complex comparison between areas including operating costs, airlines planned routes, current fleets.
Passengers may notice slightly more room in the A350 economy cabin (it is a bit wider for the common nine across layout), but the choice really comes down to individual preferences. We’ve previously compared the two aircraft, which generated plenty of discussion.
The A350 in Europe
There are (as of October 2019) 320 A350 aircraft (both -900 and -1000 variant) operational. Europe is unfortunately not the top location to find them, with 47 aircraft currently between all European based airlines. The Middle Eastern and Asian airlines are leading the way.
The following European airlines are all currently operating A350s:
- Air France (2)
- Air Caraibes (3)
- British Airways (2)
- Evelop Airlines (1)
- Finnair (14)
- French Bee (3)
- Iberia (5)
- Lufthansa (15)
- Virgin Atlantic (4)
The best chance to fly the A350 within Europe – Finnair
The largest A350 fleets in Europe are with Finnair and Lufthansa. Lufthansa will retain the lead for the foreseeable future too, with 30 more aircraft currently on order with Airbus.
Finnair is more interesting currently for those wanting to try it out. They are the only airline to regularly operate the A350 on routes within Europe. The aircraft is currently scheduled on flights from Helsinki to London and Brussels (though of course not all flights – check airline schedules!)
British Airways also potentially offers the chance to fly the A350 within Europe. When they took delivery of their first two aircraft, from August 2019, they were used for some time on the Heathrow to Madrid route. These have now been moved to long haul services but these training flights may re-appear when more aircraft are delivered.
Long haul with other carriers
The A350 is designed for long haul travel, and that is the best way to try it out. Routes and aircraft used can change frequently, but here are some of the main ones.
British Airways currently flies from London to Toronto, and Dubai with the A350. They will add Tel Aviv later in 2019 and Bangalore in 2020. They have orders for 16 more aircraft though so these routes will expand.
Virgin Atlantic currently operate the A350 on routes between London and New York. Simple Flying was on board the first Virgin A350 flight to New York in September 2019 – read about it here.
They have also recently announced new services to Johannesburg, Lagos, Los Angeles, and San Francisco to start in 2020.
With the largest European A350 fleet, Lufthansa is a great choice to try out the A350. They currently fly from Munich to Beijing, Cape Town, Charlotte, Chicago, Delhi, Denver, Montreal, Mumbai, Newark, Osaka, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo Haneda, Toronto, and Vancouver. Many new routes for 2020 have already been confirmed, including Hong Kong, Sao Paulo, Bangalore, and Detroit.
Likewise, Finnair offers a wide choice of destinations. These currently include Bangkok, Guangzhou, Havana, Ho Chi Minh, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Nagoya, Osaka, Seoul, Shanghai, and Singapore. Tokyo, Busan, and Beijing will be added in late 2019 or 2020.
Iberia are currently using their A350’s between Madrid and Chicago, Buenos Aires and New York, They will add San Jose, Costa Rica in December 2019 and Tokyo and Bogota in 2020.
Don’t forget other carriers
And if European carriers don’t work out, remember there are plenty of other airlines flying the A350 into Europe. Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, and Cathay Pacific operate the three largest A350 fleets. All have multiple routes from their hubs to European cities.
For flights with US-based airlines to Europe, Delta is currently the only option, with flights between Amsterdam and Detroit. They will add Amsterdam to Atlanta and Minneapolis in 2020.
Aircraft and route data for this article have been sourced from Wikipedia, airportspotting.com as well as airline websites. This is correct as of November 2019. Do bear in mind that routes and operating aircraft can change often. Also where a route is mentioned, it is quite likely that not all flights scheduled will be A350 – but this can be checked with airline schedules.