MIAMI – Airbus celebrated another momentous day with the very first Aeroflot A350-900 taking off on its maiden flight over the skies of southern France and Air France taking delivery of the 350th A350 ever produced.

The Russian carrier is expected to take delivery of its first A350 in the coming weeks, later inaugurating it into domestic services on March 6, on the Moscow-Sheremetyevo to St. Petersburg route three times per day.

Later, however, Aeroflot has placed its newest widebody aircraft on the coveted Moscow to London-Heathrow service, starting June 2020.

Photo: Eurospot

Back in mid-January, the Russian carrier obtained the green light from the country’s aviation authorities once the A350 was certified to operate in Russia.

As noted by FlightGlobal, “Russian air transport regulator Rosaviatsia’s official documentation shows the type certificate was drawn up on 13 December.”

According to Airbus, the approval by the Russian regulator was an important step, especially because the country’s flag carrier has 14 A350-900s on order.

A350 Hits The 350 Milestone

In other news, Airbus celebrated yet another milestone in the history of its A350 program. The European planemaker delivered the 350th A350 to long time partner and french national carrier Air France.

This delivery marks a new era for Airbus’ soon-to-be flagship aircraft, after last year it announced the cancellation of A380 production in 2021

Air France noted that the 350th A350 will be christened with the name “Nice” in a tribute to the iconic city on the French Riviera and gateway to the Mediterranean.

This aircraft now joins the other three A350s already delivered to the carrier, named after the cities of Toulouse, Lyon and St. Denis de la Réunion.

With this new delivery, the carrier is now firmly on track to receive all of its 38 ordered A350s by 2025, which Air France says will become “the new jewel in our long-haul fleet.”

Photo: Clément Alloing

In addition to this special occasion, Air France also announced today the six destinations which will be served by their new A350s during the busy summer schedule.

The destinations will all be served from Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) to Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire), Bangkok (Thailand), Bamako (Mali), Atlanta, Boston and Washington (USA). 

The break down of the Summer A350 schedule, according to the airline, are as follows:

  • Bamako – Abidjan: 1 daily flight
  • Bangkok: 3 weekly flights (outbound flight on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday; return on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday)
  • ​Atlanta: 1 daily flight
  • Boston: 1 daily flight until 4 May and subsequently 2 daily flights
  • Washington: 1 daily flight as from 5 June 2020

Inside Air France’s Airbus A350

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 seat turns into a two-meter-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 to 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.

Air France-KLM CEO, Benjamin Smith, testing the A350’s new Economy cabin with Air France CEO, Anne Rigail.

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.