Delhi Airport, yesterday welcomed Air India’s first wide-body aircraft, the A350, adorned with a fresh livery. Air India, intending to incorporate a total of six A350 planes, stands as the first Indian carrier to feature this aircraft type.
Air India will buy 40 A350s, 20 each of the A350-900 and A350-1000 models, as part of its revised 250-plane deal with Airbus, along with 140 narrow-body A321neo and 70 A320neo jets.
However, numerous post-arrival regulatory processes, including customs clearance, various DGCA checks on equipment, and a series of ground tests and proving flights, must be completed before the aircraft is certified to carry passengers.
Air India managing director and chief executive Campbell Wilson, in a message to the staff, said on Friday: “We will be operating short sectors for a few months so that we can familiarise our pilots with the new aircraft under the tutelage of experienced instructors, and to build a pool sufficient to support long-haul A350 operations later in the year.”
The CEO announced the introduction of new uniforms for the airline’s ground staff and Air India Express personnel. Recently, the airline introduced new uniforms for the cabin and cockpit crew.
Under Tata ownership, Air India has outlined ambitious expansion plans, including the integration of 40 Airbus A350 aircraft over the coming years. The airline has solidified orders for 250 Airbus aircraft and 220 new Boeing flights.
This strategic move aligns with Air India’s goal for a turnaround under Tata ownership. The carrier secured purchase agreements for these aircraft during the Paris Air Show in Delhi, with regulatory approval already obtained for the engineering line maintenance of A350 aircraft—a crucial step toward ensuring the smooth operation and maintenance of all six A350 aircraft to be inducted into the fleet.
More about the widebody A350 aircrafts
The airline has previously said that this aircraft will initially be used for short-haul flights before being used for long-haul trips.
The new aircraft will start commercial service in January of next year, initially operating locally for crew familiarisation before transitioning to longer-haul flights to locations across continents, according to the airline. It also stated that the A350’s commercial operating timetable will be disclosed in the following weeks.
“As a symbol of the new age of flying, the A350 promises a world-class, long-haul travel experience on our non-stop routes. Its excellent flight economics and technology underscore our dedication to commercially successful operations and to achieving our sustainability goals,” Wilson was quoted by PTI in its report.
According to Air India, the 316-seater A350-900 aircraft has a three-class cabin arrangement with 28 private business class suites with full-flat mattresses, 24 premium economy seats with increased legroom, and 264 roomy economy class seats.
Why did Air India buy A350s and landed at Delhi Airport
The distinction between Narrow- and Wide-Body aircraft is the width of the fuselage (tube shaped aircraft body, or the part where passengers, cargo and crew sit). A typical narrow-body plane has a diameter of 3-4 m whereas a typical wide-body plane has a diameter of 5-6 m.
Due to the bigger fuselage, wide-body aircraft can house more passengers, and the same is achieved by having more seats per row. While narrow-body aircraft will have 3-6 seats per row with one aisle, wide-body aircraft can have upto 10 seats with two aisles.
Wide Body aircrafts are preferred over the narrow ones for long haul travels. A long journey is better in such aircrafts when compared to the normal ones. Hence, this can also be a business expansion move by Air India to start direct long haul flights to various destinations.
Air India chose to land these brand new A350s at the Delhi Airport as a mark of respect to the country. Also because the airline brand holds a significant HQ in New Delhi.