Air France has taken delivery on September 27th 2019 of the first of its new Airbus A350-900 XWB (Extra Wide Body) airliner.
The new aircraft, fitted to transport 324 passengers in a 34-seats Business cabin, a 24-seats Premium Economy cabin and a 266-seats Economy cabin will begin commercial service on October 7th. The carrier which has ordered a total of 28 aircraft due to be fully delivered by 2025 plans to have up to 6 destinations served by the type before October 2020, namely Abidjan, Bamako, Toronto, Cairo, Seoul, and Bangkok.
Touted as the most fuel efficient aircraft in its class, the A350-900 relies on two latest generation Rolls Royce built Trent engines to burn 25% less fuel than the previous generation aircraft while achieving a 40% noise abatement. Refined aerodynamics (such as the elegantly curved wingtips dubbed ‘sharklets’ by Airbus) along with the use of lighter weight carbon fiber material in the construction of the fuselage and the wings also contribute significant (up to 67%) weight saving.
Showcasing the aircraft low CO2 emission, the ferry flight from the Airbus Delivery Center in Toulouse to Air France Paris Charles De Gaulle hub was powered by a mixture of conventional jet fuel and synthetic biofuel.
Air France has embarked on a very ambitious fleet modernization programme to fully equip its long haul fleet with next generation aircraft by 2025.
Very pragmatically, Air France now operate two completely competing aircraft side by side; the A350 is being inducted in a fleet where the Boeing 787 is already a well established product (first delivery in December of 2017). Both aircraft display comparably similar features and performance, but with the Boeing 787 seating only 276 passengers (30 in Business Class, 21 in Premium Economy and 225 in Economy). The company hopes to be able to offer a consistant level of passenger experience comfort across various markets segments as both products combine 30% larger windows, variable mood lighting and enhanced humidity to stunniingly low cabin noise levels.