The A350 is fast becoming one of Airbus’ bestselling aircraft. Having entered into service with Qatar in 2015, the type has gone from strength to strength, operating the longest commercial flight in the world for Singapore and being ordered by major customers all over the world. We take a look at which airlines have received their very first A350s in 2019.
Since its launch, Airbus has received almost 1,000 orders for the A350 family of aircraft, which is currently made up of the -900, the -900ULR and the -1000. Its biggest customer is Qatar, with 76 of the family on order, followed by Singapore with 67 and Cathay Pacific with 46.
According to data from AIBFamily, 63 A350s have been delivered so far this year. Of these, 51 have been the smaller A350-900 and just 12 the new and larger A350-1000. The airline to receive the most A350s this year so far has been Singapore, who has had nine delivered. Next, it’s Qatar with eight and then Cathay Pacific with six. But which airlines are taking delivery of their very first A350 in 2019?
British Airways’ first A350 arrived just weeks ago. Registered G-XWBA, this first A350-1000 has been undertaking the short hop between London and Madrid for crew familiarization since its arrival. It will begin operating to Toronto on October 1st, with Dubai following on the 8th October. The third and fourth A350s will operate to Tel Aviv and Bangalore when they arrive.
BA’s A350s all have the stunning new Club Suite on board, which has really stepped up the carrier’s game in the business class segment. However, they chose to drop first from the plane as a result. The carrier will receive a total of four A350s from its order of 18 by the end of the year.
Virgin received its very first A350 just last week. Registered G-VLUX and named ‘Ref Velvet’, this is the first of eight A350-1000s destined for the British carrier. In addition to a new economy and premium economy seating, these aircraft come equipped with a brand new Upper Class cabin, promising a new level of comfort when crossing the Atlantic.
Virgin are expecting three more A350s by the end of 2019. All four of the first A350s will be placed on the London to New York service.
JAL took delivery of its first A350-900 in early June, with plans to operate the type on its Tokyo to Fukuoka route from September. The carrier has 31 A350s on order, 18 of which are the -900 and the other 13 the -1000. JAL has said that the -900s will be used on domestic routes only, but that when the -1000s start being delivered in 2023, they will appear on international routes also.
The first three A350s for JAL feature a special livery with the A350 logo in symbolic colors. The order from JAL was significant for Airbus, as it was the first non-Boeing order from the carrier and the first A350 order within Japan.
China Southern took delivery of its first A350 at the end of June. This A350-900 features new seat products in business, with a 1-2-1 layout, and revamped offerings in premium economy and economy too. China Southern is currently operating the A350-900 on domestic flights between Guangzhou and Shanghai Hongqiao.
The airline has 19 further A350-900s on order from Airbus.
Air France has 28 A350s on order from Airbus. Its original order was for 20, but earlier this year it was confirmed that the outstanding Air France Boeing 787 orders would be transferred to KLM, and that Air France would take all of KLM’s A350 orders. This brings its total order book to 28.
Air France expect to receive its first A350 in September this year. It’s already been revealed in the paint shop in the AF colors and is set to operate flights to Africa before being introduced to the transatlantic market. Like other carriers, Air France is introducing a new business class product on board which looks pretty darn awesome.
Not a hugely well-known airline, Spanish charter specialist evelop! has just two A350s on order from Airbus. The first A350-900 was delivered to the carrier in March of this year. The carrier is using the aircraft on routes to Caribbean destinations, according to the Airbus press release, and has configured the A350 in a dense all-economy configuration of 432 seats.
Etihad Airways are the black sheep of our A350 list, as the carrier has, technically, received its first A350. However, it appears that the first A350, registered A6-XWB, was sent to Bordeaux for storage. Etihad originally placed a larger order for 64 A350s, but in February, amidst financial issues, the carrier cancelled 42 of the planes.
— Aviation Toulouse (@Frenchpainter) March 15, 2019
The remaining 20 have been hanging in the balance for the Abu Dhabi carrier, despite spotter images showing the first aircraft in full Etihad livery. As far as we know, Etihad are committed to taking only four of the aircraft, meaning that they may cancel more of the order too. With no EIS date forthcoming, it remains to be seen if we’ll ever actually see the A350 in Etihad’s fleet.
Who hasn’t got an A350 yet?
With so many carriers making the list of firsts in 2019, you’ve got to wonder, who’s left? Well, there are a number of carriers set to receive their first A350s in 2020 too. These include Turkish Airlines, Aeroflot, SAS and Kuwait Airways. Aer Lingus should have been on this list too, but their aircraft will now be heading to Iberia instead.
Still to come too are five for Starlux Airlines in 2021, and a staggering 45 for United Airlines in 2022, who decided to drop the larger -1000 variant in favor of more of the -900 version. Emirates top the list, with 30 A350-900s on order, slated for delivery in 2024.
Have you flown on an A350? Do you plan to? Let us know in the comments!