Air India Welcomes First Airbus A350

Air India Airbus A350 Delivery

Air India has taken delivery of its first Airbus A350-900, becoming the first airline in the country to operate this advanced widebody aircraft. The A350-900, registered as VT-JRA, landed at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, marking a significant step in Air India’s fleet modernization journey. This event follows months of meticulous preparation and regulatory approvals from India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for engineering line maintenance on the A350.

The Air India Airbus A350 Delivery flight, with flight number AI350, originating from Airbus’ Toulouse–Blagnac Airport, attracted considerable attention, becoming one of Flightradar24‘s most tracked flights with nearly 6,700 viewers at its peak. The aircraft’s journey to Delhi spanned several countries, reflecting the global anticipation for this new addition to Air India’s fleet.

Air India Airbus A350 Delivery

Preparing for A350 Integration and Operations

Air India’s introduction of the A350 is planned in phases, with a total of 20 firm orders, six of which will enter service initially. As the first Indian carrier to operate the A350, Air India faces a series of regulatory approvals and tasks following the aircraft’s arrival. These include customs clearance, DGCA equipment checks, ground tests, and proving flights. Air India CEO Campbell Wilson indicated that after these steps are complete, the A350 will operate shorter flights for crew familiarization, building a sufficient pool of trained pilots to support long-haul operations later in the year.

The airline’s preparation for the A350’s integration includes securing regulatory approval for maintenance and conducting comprehensive training for pilots, cabin crew, and engineers. This proactive approach ensures a smooth transition and efficient operation of the new aircraft in Air India’s fleet.

A Shift in Air India’s A350 Strategy

Originally favoring the larger A350-1000 variant, Air India’s strategy evolved, leading to an equal split in its A350 firm orders between the -900 and -1000 variants. This shift reflects the airline’s flexible approach to fleet planning and its commitment to optimizing performance and passenger experience. The A350-900, known for its efficiency, comfort, and reduced environmental footprint, aligns perfectly with Air India’s modernization goals and sustainability commitments.

Air India Airbus A350 Delivery
Photo by Air India

The VT-JRA is less than a year old and was initially ordered by Russian airline Aeroflot. However, due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and subsequent sanctions, the aircraft was reallocated to Air India, illustrating the dynamic nature of aircraft leasing and procurement in today’s geopolitical landscape.

Air India on Twitter
Cover photo via Air India

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