Air India gets 1st A-350 aircraft from Airbus, to join flight ops in Jan

Airbus-350-900 has seating capacity of 316 passengers of which 28 are for private business class, 24 premium economy seats and 264 economy class seats

Air India A-350

New Delhi: Carrying on its transformation, the Tata Group-owned airline, Air India, has received the first of A350 aircraft, registered as VT-JRA, from Airbus, the company said this in a statement on Saturday.

This is the first of the six A350-900 aircraft that the Air India received. The rest five will be received till March next year. The new aircraft will join the commercial operation for domestic service in January 2024. However, after crew familiarisation, the aircraft will be used for longer-haul destinations. According to airline officials, scheduled of the commercial operations with the A350 will be announced in the next few weeks.

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“This moment marks a red-letter day for all of us at Air India. The A350 is not just metal and engines; it’s the flying embodiment of the relentless efforts of all Air India employees towards our airline’s continuing transformation and of our commitment to setting new benchmarks. It is also, in many ways, a declaration of Indian aviation’s resurgence on the world stage,” said Campbell Wilson, chief executive officer & managing director (CEO-MD), Air India.

The aircraft comes in a three-class cabin configuration, private business, premium economy and economy class. It has seating capacity of 316 passengers of which 28 are for private business class, 24 premium economy seats, and 264 economy class seats. Front of all the seat has the latest-generation Panasonic eX3 in-flight entertainment system and HD screens, the company said.

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Earlier this year, Air India had placed orders for 20 Airbus A350-900. While the 1st aircraft has reached Delhi airport, the rest five deliveries are scheduled through March 2024. “A total of six A350-900 will be inducted in commercial operation in the first phase. Thus, Air India will become the first Indian airline to have this type of aircraft.

Regarding the formalities for induction, a company official said that there are a number of regulatory processes that need to be completed for the aircraft, which include customs clearance, various Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) checks on equipment, as well as a series of ground tests and proving flights to demonstrate procedures in action before the airline is certified to carry passengers.

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“Initially, the new aircraft will be operating for short sectors so that our pilots could be familiarised under experienced instructors, and to build a pool sufficient to support long-hail A350 operations later in the year,” said an official.

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