MIAMI – China Eastern Airlines has taken delivery of its first Airbus A350-900—the first of 20 planes the carrier is expecting to receive. The aircraft, bearing the registration B-304D, comes with an all-new cabin fitted with the airline’s new First and Business Class seats.

Up front, six First Class seats are placed ahead of 36 Business Class seats, all private and equipped with sliding doors.

Immediately behind, 32 seats in Premium Economy and 216 in Economy follow, totaling 288 seats onboard.

The carrier now operates a fleet of 356 Airbus aircraft, according to October 2018 numbers, consisting of 306 A320 family and 50 A330-200/300 planes.

The aircraft also offers increased comfort through the new Airbus Airspace cabin, featuring controlled temperature and humidity, full connectivity with latest generation in-flight entertainment as well as full LED ambient lighting. 

Back in April 2016 when the carrier placed the order for its Airbus A350s, Liu Shaoyong, China Eastern’s Chairman, stated that this aircraft means “embarking on a new phase” in the airline’s operations as well as “opening a new chapter in the international development of China Eastern Airlines.”

At that time, the order pushed the logbook to just over 800 units. Two years later, the order book has remained higher at around 890 units from October 2018 results. 

Orders from the Asia area represent over a third of total sales for the type. 

B-304D will be deployed on domestic routes at first before operating flights to international destinations. 

Such long-haul routes that the A350-900 will operate on are Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Vancouver, and Sydney. Domestically, Beijing, Chengdu, and Guangzhou are on the preliminary list. 

It will be interesting to see what China Eastern thinks about its operational performance when it enters commercial service and whether it will tempt the airline bo buy more. Only time will tell.