MIAMI — Air France has taken delivery of its first Airbus A350 at a ceremony at the manufacturer’s delivery centre in Toulouse, France. The delivery flight of the airline’s newest wide-body variant to Paris-CDG was powered by biofuels rather than the traditional kerosine.
The aircraft will enter commercial service on October 7, to then begin operating six destinations through the carrier’s 2020 schedule.
Anne Rigail, CEO of Air France, said during the ceremony that the arrival of a new aircraft “is always a unique and highly emotional occasion in the life of an airline.”
“Along with all Air France staff, we are extremely proud to welcome the Airbus A350, one of the world’s most efficient long-haul aircraft in terms of environmental, economic and operational performance. As from October 7, our customers will be able to discover optimal comfort and service onboard these new cabins,” she said.
By 2025, the French flag carrier expects to have 28 A350-900s in its fleet serving Abidjan on the Ivory Coast; Bamako, Mali; Toronto, Canada; Cairo, Egypt; Seoul, South Korea; and Bangkok, Thailand.
The arrival of this first A350 marks a new phase in Air France’s fleet modernisation strategy. Within five years, more than half of the company’s fleet will be made up of new-generation aircraft!”
With the arrival of the brand-new A350 into the airline’s fleet, Air France has restarted naming its planes. The first A350 has been named Toulouse, chosen by Anne-Marie Couderc, Chair of Air France-KLM and Air France and the aircraft’s sponsor.
Not only is Toulouse significant for being the place where the A350’s final assembly plant is located, but also because Air France has been serving Toulouse since its founding in 1933.
Cabin, Passenger Experience Upgrades
Onboard the Airbus A350, Air France’s passengers will be able to access the in-flight network through the airline’s Air France CONNECT. According to the carrier, there will be three different tiers for passengers to choose from:
- A free “Message” pass for all, to send and receive messages throughout the flight;
- A “Surf” pass costing between €3 and €18 (6,000 Miles) to surf the internet, consult and send emails;
- A €30 (10,000 Miles) “Stream” pass to enjoy high-speed internet, streaming and downloads, including the “Message” and “Surf” pass.
The A350 also features a new cabin, with more space for passengers throughout, as well as windows which feature a 30% increase in size over the airline’s current Airbus A330s.
In Business Class, each seats turn into a two-metre-long lie-flat bed. The new 18.5-inch HD touchscreen gives passengers access to more than 1,400 hours of entertainment including movies, music, podcasts and more.
The new seat also adapts to how passengers wish to travel, allowing them choose between a shared travel experience or optimum privacy thanks to a removable partition wall.
In Premium Economy, the brand new “Recliner” seat is 48cm wide and reclines to 124°. Passengers enjoy a 96cm seat pitch to stretch out their legs and a 13.3-inch HD touchscreen. The entertainment system offers the same selection as Business class.
In Economy Class, the seat is designed for even more comfort when compared to previous designs, with a reinforced ergonomic seat cushion, a 118° seat recline, as well as a 79-cm seat pitch.
The in-flight entertainment system is 11.6-inch HD touchscreen and features the same library as the other classes.
With the delivery of the A350, Air France officially becomes the only company in the world to have operated every single variant of the Airbus lineup of products since the A310 up until the A380.
And starting next year, the airline will also take delivery of the A220, of which it ordered 60 units earlier this year.
Overall, these are tremendous news both for Air France and its passengers, as the new plane brings a refreshed cabin with upgraded hard products, as well as the new technologies and passenger experience enhancements offered by the A350.