Some 6,5 years since signing the order, Air France on September 27 has taken delivery of its first of 28 Airbus A350-900s. The arrival of the type marks a next step in renewing the (long-haul) fleet and swapping old for new-technology airliners.
During the delivery ceremony in Toulouse on the worldwide climate day, Air France-KLM Group CEO Ben Smith and Air France CEO Anne Rigail both stressed the environmental benefits of the A350 over the A330s and Boeing 777s it will replace: 25 percent better fuel consumption and 40 percent smaller noise footprint thanks to the Rolls-Royce Trent XWBs.
It is these benefits of modern twin-jets over quads that made Air France decide this summer to early-retire its ten A380s by 2022.
Air France’s A350s seats 324 passengers in a three-class layout: 34 in Business Class with new 18.5 inch screens, 24 new Premium Economy ‘recliner’ seats, and 266 redesigned Economy seats. As is de rigeur nowadays, wifi comes as standard.
The A350 will enter service on October 7 to Abidjan (Ivory Coast) and Bamako (Mali) until December 8 and from February for the summer season, to Toronto from October 27, to Cairo and Seoul from December 9, and to Bangkok from next summer. Delivery of the new type will be complete by 2025 and includes seven aircraft originally ordered by the group for KLM but swapped with Boeing 787-9s destined for Air France.
The first A350 has been christened ‘Toulouse’ and marks a tradition to name its aircraft that Air France first adopted on the Caravelle but later abandoned.