British Airways First Airbus A350 Nears Completion

The first Airbus A350-1000 destined for deployment by British Airways is nearing the end of the Toulouse Long Shop. Today BA announced on Facebook that its new A350-1000 aircraft with test registration F-WZFH had entered the Airbus paint bay.

British Airways A350-1000 in hangar
British Airways A350-1000 enters painting hangar at Airbus, Toulouse. Photo: British Airways / Facebook

Aircraft MSN326 was seen to roll out of Airbus’s Final Assembly Line in the middle of last month. Most observers expect the aircraft to be painted with the current Chatham Dockyard livery.

When BA finally takes delivery of the completed A350 the carrier will become the second European after Virgin Atlantic to operate the extra-wide-bodied aircraft. BA has 18 of the type on order and expects the first to arrive at its hub in July of this year. The company hopes to be operating four A350-1000s by the end of 2019.

New Club World seat

Although BA has not yet confirmed the precise seating configuration, it is thought the completed A350s will be configured to include 331 seats distributed across three cabins. The -1000 will not have any First Class suites but it will have more Club World business seats than the aging B747.

The set-up marks the first radical reconfiguration of BA’s business cabins in almost two decades.

BA also intends to retrofit two of its B777 aircraft with the new Club World seats by the end of 2019. On these aircraft the reconfiguration will make room for additional seating due to the halving of First Class capacity.

British Airways A350-1000 in Airbus hangar
Aircraft to be painted in standard BA livery. Photo: British Airways / Facebook

The airline promises to offer passengers in its new Club World suite direct aisle access, a privacy door and fully-reclining bed. Each seat pitch comes with more storage, ‘gate-to-gate’ in-flight entertainment and power sockets.

In a recent press release Alex Cruz the carrier’s CEO said that the new cabins are part of an “exciting development in our £6.5 billion investment program.”

Its unveiling has certainly been highly-anticipated,” adds Cruz, “and represents a significant improvement on the product BA currently offers across much of its wide body fleet.”

Replacement for 747

British Airways intends to replace its tired and thirsty B747-400s by the brand-new A350. The phasing out of the type will last until around 2023, according to the airline.

Virgin Atlantic announced in April this year that it would phase out its use of the B747 in favour of bolstering its fleet of A350s.

The new A350-1000 is Airbus’s longest fuselage version of the twin-aisle wide-bodied aircraft. As previously reported the aircraft will be fitted with Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 turbofan jet engines. According to the manufacturer, the type has a range of almost 10,000 miles (16,000 km).

Wing tip of A350-1000
Newly designed sharklets improve the span-load distribution of the wing to reduce drag. Photo: British Airways / Facebook

The agreement signed by BA also includes a “comprehensive maintenance package with total care agreement.”

Confirmed routes for BA’s A350-1000 are London Heathrow to Toronto from October 1st 2019. Dubai will be added from October 8th and Tel Aviv from December 1st. Later, Bangalore will begin from January 1st, 2020, and from March 1st next year the airline is expected to run double daily flights between Heathrow and Dubai.

Since the Airbus A350-1000 will eventually replace 747-400 it is speculated that other routes for the new type will include the destinations of Accra, Las Vegas, Nairobi, Phoenix and Vancouver.

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