Air India, India’s leading global airline, welcomed the first of 20 Airbus A350-900 aircraft, registered VT-JRA, in the airline’s bold new livery, marking a turning point in its ongoing transformation story.
The aircraft arrived at New Delhi from the Airbus facility in Toulouse, France. The delivery flight, operated using a special call sign AI350, was welcomed by Air India representatives. Air India’s Senior Commander Capt. Monika Batra Vaidya, who is among the first few Indian pilots to be trained on A350, was on board as an observer.
Air India leads the way in catalysing the renaissance of Indian aviation, inducting the first new widebody fleet type in India in more than a decade, and thus, becoming the first Indian airline to fly the A350. Air India was also the first Indian airline to have inducted the Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet type in 2012.
Campbell Wilson, Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director, Air India, said: “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.”
“As a symbol of the new age of flying, the A350 promises a world-class, long-haul travel experience on our non-stop routes, providing an unparallelled level of comfort. Its excellent flight economics and state-of-the-art technology underscore our dedication to commercially successful operations and to achieving our sustainability goals,” Wilson added.
Air India’s A350 will enter commercial service in January 2024, initially operating domestically for crew familiarisation, followed by longer-haul flying to destinations across continents. The schedule of commercial operations with the A350 will be announced in the coming weeks.
Air India’s A350-900 aircraft come in a three-class cabin configuration with 316 seats designed by Collins Aerospace: 28 private Business Class suites with full-flat beds, 24 Premium Economy seats with extra legroom and multiple other differentiating features, and 264 spacious Economy Class seats. All seats on the aircraft feature the latest-generation Panasonic eX3 in-flight entertainment system and HD screens to provide superior flying experience.
The aircraft is first of Air India’s 20 Airbus A350-900 on order, with five more scheduled for deliveries through March 2024. Air India’s firm orders for 250 new aircraft with Airbus include 20 A350-1000.
Earlier this week, the airline started the rollout of its new global brand identity across guest touchpoints, having launched a new consumer-facing website and mobile app. Last week, the airline unveiled its much-anticipated new collection of uniforms for cabin and cockpit crew designed by Indian celebrity couturier, Manish Malhotra. Air India’s cabin crew and pilots will be seen in the new uniforms starting with the entry of service of the A350.