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Air India Receives Its First Airbus A350

Air India's new Airbus A350 marks a significant step in the airline's transformation.

Air India’s first A350 aircraft (Photo: Air India)

Recently, Air India welcomed the delivery of its first Airbus A350-900 aircraft, registered as VT-JRA, from Toulouse, France. The aircraft arrived in New Delhi in the early afternoon on Dec. 23, officially marking the new generation for the now-privatized airline, via a statement from the airline.

Air India will become the first Indian carrier to introduce the Airbus A350 into its fleet. “Air India was also the first Indian airline to have inducted the Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet type in 2012,” the carrier added.

Reacting to the delivery, Campbell Wilson, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director at Air India, said in a press release, “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.”

Air India’s first A350 (Photo: Air India)

The airline said it plans to enter the A350 into commercial service in January 2024, initially operating domestically. Once crew familiarization is completed, Air India plans to introduce the A350 across its international network. In the coming weeks, the airline intends to announce the official schedule of its new aircraft.

Wilson continued by stating that the A350 will promise “a world-class, long-haul travel experience on our non-stop routes,” while ensuring that the airline can continue to implement and run “commercially successful operations.”

The Airbus A350 will be configured in a three-class cabin configuration fabricated by Collins Aerospace. It will have 28 business class full-flat bed suites, 24 premium economy seats, and 264 economy seats. The airline added, “All seats on the aircraft feature the latest-generation Panasonic eX3 in-flight entertainment system,” with HD screens on every seat to ensure passenger comfort.

Economy seating on Air India’s A350 (Photo: Air India)

Significance for Air India and Aviation in India

With the introduction of the A350 into Air India’s fleet, the carrier hopes to reap the benefits of the new generation of modern widebodies. The A350 will bring fuel efficiency, allowing the airline to run a more sustainable operation. As the Indian aviation market continues to grow, the flag carrier’s more robust product will increase competition with the big three Middle Eastern carriers to fight for a more substantial market share in India.

The continued fleet modernization plan falls squarely on the roadmap the Tata Group presented when it regained the airline in January 2022. The airline plans five more deliveries through March 2024, with 20 additional A350-1000 aircraft on order.

Business class seating on Air India’s A350 (Photo: Air India)

The airline stated in its release that this is a step forward on its “major five-year transformation roadmap” to become one of the world’s best airlines. The Indian flag carrier just released its new identity, paving the way for the new generation of Air India.

The carrier’s new branding scheme aligns with the modernization seen to become a world-class airline while staying connected to its Indian roots. With 470 aircraft on order from Boeing and Airbus, the airline is well on its way to achieving fleet modernization with a consistent product across the board.

Arya Karnik

Author

  • Arya Karnik

    Ever since he was a kid, Arya has been interested in aviation. With his entire family overseas, he has taken many family trips worldwide to places like the United Kingdom and India. He lives in Colorado but attends The University of Alabama, studying Computer Engineering with a minor in Computer Science. He hopes to obtain his PPL and eventually translate his engineering degree to working in operations at an airline.

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