DALLAS – As part of its massive ‘Vihaan.AI’ restructuring plan, Air India (AI) is preparing for the delivery of its first Airbus A350-900s, expected to join the fleet in Q4 2023.
On June 20, 2023, it was confirmed that AI had placed the largest order in its history for 470 narrow and widebody aircraft from manufacturers Boeing and Airbus. From those, the carrier chose 40 units of the A350 family to support its upcoming ramp-up of long-haul operations.
Air India plans to take delivery of 34 A350-1000 variants and six separate A350-900s to be sourced from the cancelled order to Aeroflot (SU), which will not receive those units due to the sanctions imposed by the European Union.
Local media The Hindu Businessline reported that four stored aircraft have been marked for upcoming deliveries for AI. These are MSNs 554, 558, 585 and 589, all initially destined for SU but remain grounded at the Airbus factory at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport (TLS).
Aeroflot Experience on Air India Flights
Just as it has happened with the recent incorporation of the five Boeing 777-200LR airplanes to Air India during the last six months, keeping the Delta (DL) cabin, AI will not install any customized interiors to the ex-SU A350s, instead maintaining the former cabin chosen by the Russian flag carrier.
Therefore, customers flying on the AI A350-900s will experience the same seat product as Aeroflot passengers. The jets are configured in a three-class layout, with 28 Business-Class seats, 24 Premium-Economy seats and 264 standard Economy-Class seats, adding to a total capacity of 316 passengers.
The A350 Business Class cabin will take advantage of the Collins Aerospace Horizon seats, similar to the ones offered on board DL, with direct aisle access and sliding privacy doors to enhance privacy and improve overall comfort and inflight experience.
More About the Famous 470-Aircraft Order
On the afternoon of June 20, the second trade day of the 2023 Paris Air Show, the commercial aviation market was still recuperating from the historic largest single Airbus order from LCC IndiGo (6E) for 500 Airbus A320 family aircraft the day before.
Yet, only 24 hours later, the news struck the world again from Le Bourget with the confirmation of a second massive order from Air India to incorporate 470 Airbus and Boeing planes during the next decade, reinstating its position as the largest airline in the country. India secured almost 1000 aircraft in orders with the Western manufacturers in two days.
The historic deal consists of the following list of aircraft: 34 A350-100s, 6 A350-900s, 20 Boeing 787s, 10 Boeing 777X, 140 A320neos, 70 A321neos and 190 Boeing 737 MAX series aircraft. While the A350 was always expected to begin the delivery process of this large operation, the other airframes are planned to arrive as soon as 2025.
These two orders from AI and 6E marked the 2023 edition of the Paris Air Show as the “Show of India”, as this country drove attention from all attendees to itself due to the events that occurred this year at Le Bourget Airport (LBG).
Pilot Training Begins
In preparation for the A350s arrival, Air India has began training some Airbus A320 type rated pilots ready to transition to the new fleet. The conversion courses are currently taking place at the Airbus training facility in Singapore.
Meanwhile, India’s Ministry of Aviation has issued its Letter of Type Acceptance to the airline ready for the induction of the type.
Featured image: Airbus