The Airbus A350 Revealed: The Type’s Top Airlines & Destinations

The A350 sees service with 32 airlines this year – with more coming. Qatar Airways is by far the largest operator and around 90 airports will welcome it from Doha. Across all airlines, more than 500 routes see the A350, with a bigger focus now on domestic routes, helping to cement the importance of Asia for the aircraft.

The Airbus A350 Revealed: The Type’s Top Airlines & Destinations
Qatar Airways has one-fifth of all A350 seats this year. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

The Airbus A350-900 entered service with Qatar Airways on January 15th, 2015, followed three years later by the delivery of the first A350-1000 – also to Qatar Airways. Not surprisingly, the Middle East airline is overwhelmingly the largest A350 user, with three-quarters more seat capacity than the runner-up, Singapore Airlines.

Naturally, the -900 remains the bedrock of the A350 program, with nearly nine in ten seats (88%), analyzing OAG data indicates. This is despite LATAM removing the type from its fleet.

The Airbus A350 Revealed: The Type’s Top Airlines & Destinations
The A350-1000 will probably pass the 10 million mark in 2022 with Qatar Airways, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Virgin Atlantic, and Air Caraïbes. Source: OAG Schedules Analyzer.

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Top A350 airlines

In 2021, the top-15 airlines using the A350 are as follows.

  1. Qatar Airways: 12.2 million A350 seats in 2021
  2. Singapore Airlines: 7.1 million
  3. Japan Airlines: 4.7 million
  4. Cathay Pacific: 3.3 million
  5. Ethiopian Airlines: 3.0 million
  6. Vietnam Airlines: 2.9 million
  7. Air France: 2.5 million
  8. Lufthansa: 2.4 million
  9. Delta: 2.3 million
  10. China Airlines: 2.2 million
  11. China Southern: 2.1 million
  12. Air China: 2 million
  13. Iberia: 1.8 million
  14. Finnair 1.7 million
  15. Thai Airways: 1.6 million

A new operator of the type, World2Fly, took its first flight earlier this week ahead of beginning service, while Etihad Airways remains committed to acquiring the A350-1000.

The Airbus A350 Revealed: The Type’s Top Airlines & Destinations
Singapore Airlines is the world’s second-largest A350 user by seats this year. It is most famous for its 9,534-mile Singapore-New York JFK non-stop service. This is the world’s longest route. In the past week, it has taken around 18 hours in both directions. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

An Asian aircraft

With so many bigger A350 users from Asia, it’s no surprise that this region is crucial for the aircraft. Nearly half (47%) of the type’s seats touch Asia, well ahead of Europe (18%) and North America (10%). Northeast Asia, in particular, is especially key, with Japan, China, and Hong Kong all in the top-10 country list for the aircraft.

The Airbus A350 Revealed: The Type’s Top Airlines & Destinations
Air China is mainly using its A350 domestically this year, led by Beijing to Shanghai Hongqiao, along with nine routes to Europe, especially Shanghai Pudong to Frankfurt. No service to Los Angeles (where this photo was taken) or the wider US is currently scheduled. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Top airports for the A350

At airport-level, Asia shines through, as follows, although not China. This is based on the A350 being used throughout the country, given the different hubs and main airports of the four Chinese airlines that use it and the 13 other airlines that serve the country with it. Still, four airports –  Guangzhou, Shanghai Hongqiao, Beijing Capital, and Chengdu – all have two million-plus seats, just not enough for the top-10 list.

  1. Doha: 12.2 million A350 seats
  2. Singapore: 7.7 million
  3. Tokyo Haneda: 5.8 million
  4. Hong Kong: 4.2 million
  5. Heathrow: 3.9 million
  6. Paris CDG: 3.2 million
  7. Seoul Incheon: 3 million
  8. Addis Ababa: 2.9 million
  9. Ho Chi Minh City: 2.8 million
  10. Hanoi: 2.6 million
The Airbus A350 Revealed: The Type’s Top Airlines & Destinations
Delta, the ninth-biggest user of the A350, mainly uses it to Asia-Pacific. Detroit-Seoul is its top route, followed by Atlanta-Seoul, Los Angeles-Sydney, Atlanta-Tokyo Haneda, and Atlanta-Paris CDG. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Main routes

Over 500 routes are scheduled to see the A350 on a regular or semi-regular basis this year. Some 46 routes have 250,000+ seats, OAG data indicates.

The Airbus A350 Revealed: The Type’s Top Airlines & Destinations
The world’s top-10 A350 routes this year. Although hard to see, number-six is from Beijing Daxing (PKX) to Guangzhou. Image: GCMap.

With almost two million seats, Tokyo Haneda to Sapporo is the number-one A350 route, followed by the other classic Japanese domestic service: Haneda to Fukuoka. Domestic routes feature heavily among the top A350 routes, with international routes taking the ninth and tenth spots.

The great focus on domestic routes is largely driven by coronavirus. In 2019, it was almost the reverse: international routes featured seven in ten times in the A350’s top-10 routes.

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