Air India took delivery of the first of 20 Airbus A350-900, becoming the first Indian carrier to operate the Airbus A350. The aircraft which made its journey from the Airbus facility in Toulouse, France, successfully landed in New Delhi on Saturday, the 23rd of December.
The Airbus A350-900 with registration VT-JRA will initially operate short-haul flights, according to the airline’s CEO Campbell Wilson. Originally intended for Russian carrier Aeroflot, this Airbus A350-900 took an unexpected turn to join Air India’s fleet.
Air India, which plans to induct a total of six A350 planes in the first phase, will take delivery of the remaining five A350s by March 2024.
The Indian flag carrier had initially planned to order 40 Airbus A350-1000s. However, in response to the ongoing situation, the airline opted to swap six of its orders for the -900 variant from Aeroflot. Moreover, the Indian flag carrier recently updated its A350 order and the carrier will now incorporate an equal number of both A350-900 and A350-1000 into its fleet.
Air India A350-900 Cabin
With the delivery of the first A350-900, the first cabin photos of the aircraft have been revealed. However, the first six A350s will be equipped with Aeroflot interiors as planned for these aircraft initially, with minor changes to reflect Air India’s branding.
In Business Class, these A350-900 will feature the Collins Aerospace Horizon seats, in a 1-2-1 configuration, providing direct aisle access and doors to each individual.
Meanwhile, the six A350-900 will feature 24 seats in a 2-4-2 configuration in Premium Economy, whereas the aircraft will feature 264 Economy seats in a 3-3-3 configuration.
Initial Plans and Transition to Long-Haul Operations
Air India’s CEO, Campbell Wilson shared that the initial phase would focus on domestic and short international routes for the A350-900 for fleet familiarization. Experienced instructors will guide this process, building a skilled pool of crew members to support long-haul A350 operations in the coming months.
Being the first carrier to operate the aircraft type in India, Wilson said that several post-arrival regulatory processes need to be completed. This includes customs clearance, various regulatory approvals on equipment, and a series of ground tests and proving flights to demonstrate procedures in action before scheduled passenger services commence.
“Thereafter, we will be operating short sectors for a few months so that we can familiarise our pilots with the new aircraft under the tutelage of experienced instructors, and build a pool sufficient to support long-hail A350 operations later in the year.”Air India CEO, Campbell Wilson.
Air India’s New Uniform
Recently, Air India introduced new uniforms for the airline’s cabin and cockpit crew.
In an internal message sent to the carrier’s staff, the Air India CEO stated that new uniforms for the airline’s ground staff and Air India Express staff will be introduced soon.
The Tata Group-owned full-service carrier has recently secured regulatory approval for the engineering line maintenance of its A350 aircraft, paving a major step forward in ensuring the smooth operation and maintenance of all six A350 aircraft which are to be inducted in the first phase.
Feature Image via AIN