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Image Source : AIR INDIA (X) Air India’s first A350 aircraft arrives in Delhi

Air India: Air India officially took delivery of its first Airbus A350-900 today (December 23), making history as the first Indian carrier to operate the aircraft type.

“Air India, India’s leading global airline, today welcomed the first of 20 Airbus A350-900 aircraft, registered VT-JRA, in the airline’s bold new livery, marking a turning point in its ongoing transformation story,” an official statement issued by the airline said.

The aircraft arrived in New Delhi at 1:46 pm on Saturday from the Airbus facility in Toulouse, France. The delivery flight, operated using a special call sign AI350, was welcomed by Air India representatives.Air India’s Senior Commander Captain Monika Batra Vaidya, who is among the first few Indian pilots to be trained on A350, was on board as an observer. Air India leads the way in catalysing the renaissance of Indian aviation, inducting the first new wide-body fleet type in India in more than a decade, and thus, becoming the first Indian airline to fly the A350.

Air India was also the first Indian airline to have inducted the Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet type in 2012.Campbell Wilson, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Air India, said that the moment marked a red-letter day for all at Air India.

“The A350 is not just metal and engines; it’s the flying embodiment of the relentless efforts of all Air India employees towards our airline’s continuing transformation and of our commitment to setting new benchmarks. It is also, in many ways, a declaration of Indian aviation’s resurgence on the world stage,” he said.

He further said that as a symbol of the new age of flying, the A350 promises a world-class, long-haul travel experience on the airline’s non-stop routes, providing an unparalleled level of comfort.”Its excellent flight economics and state-of-the-art technology underscore our dedication to commercially successful operations and to achieving our sustainability goals,” Wilson added.

Air India’s A350 will enter commercial service in January 2024, initially operating domestically for crew familiarisation, followed by longer-haul flying to destinations across continents. The schedule of commercial operations with the A350 will be announced in the coming weeks.

Air India’s A350-900 aircraft comes in a three-class cabin configuration with 316 seats designed by Collins Aerospace: 28 private Business Class suites with full-flat beds, 24 Premium Economy seats with extra legroom and multiple other differentiating features, and 264 spacious Economy Class seats. The aircraft is the first of Air India’s 20 Airbus A350-900S on order, with five more scheduled for deliveries through March 2024. Air India’s firm orders for 250 new aircraft with Airbus include 20 A350-1000.

Earlier this week, the airline started the rollout of its new global brand identity across guest touchpoints, having launched a new consumer-facing website and mobile app. Last week, the airline unveiled its much-anticipated new collection of uniforms for cabin and cockpit crew designed by Indian celebrity couturier, Manish Malhotra.

Air India’s cabin crew and pilots will be seen in the new uniforms starting with the entry of service of the A350. Recently, Tata-owned Air India has outlined ambitious expansion plans, with an order for 40 Airbus A350 aircraft set to be integrated gradually in the upcoming years.

Air India has solidified its order for 250 Airbus aircraft and 220 new Boeing flights, collectively valued at USD 70 billion at list prices. This strategic move comes as the airline aims for a turnaround under its new ownership, Tata. Air India secured purchase agreements for these aircraft with Airbus and Boeing during the Paris Air Show in June of this year. 

(With agencies inputs) 

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