Air France receives first Airbus A350

The first A350-900 for Air France on a test flight. Photo: © Airbus

French flag-carrier Air France has taken delivery of its first Airbus A350-900.

The airline’s first aircraft of this type, wearing the registration F-HTYA, is named “Toulouse” and features a total of 324 seats. 34 of those are in a brand new Business Class cabin, 24 in a revamped Premium Economy, and the remaining 266 seats are Economy Class.

At the delivery ceremony in Toulouse, Air France CEO Anne Rigail and Air Franc-KLM Group CEO Benjamin Smith highlighted the type’s efficiency and importance for the carrier. With a total of 28 A350 on order, Air France is one of the ten largest customers for the aircraft.

Air France will replace aging aircraft, such as the A340-300 or older Boeing 777-200, with the new A350, which will be deployed at its main hub, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. The initial routes for the type will be to Bamako, Mali and Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire starting on October 7th, as well as Toronto, starting on October 27th. Seoul and Cairo will follow in December this year, and A350 flights to Bangkok are due to start in summer 2020.

Earlier this year it was announced that Air France and KLM have switched its widebody aircraft orders. This means that KLM takes over the delivery slots of 7 Boeing 787-9 destined for Air France and Air France takes over 7 delivery slots of KLM for the Airbus A350. This move was part of an ongoing restructuring effort by Benjamin Smith to reduce the Group’s operating costs and fleet complexity.

Air France is by far the largest French airline and its fleet consist of both Airbus and Boeing aircraft like the A320 family, the A330, A340, A380 and the Boeing 777 and 787. Additionally, its regional subsidiary HOP! operates aircraft made by Embraer, Bombardier and ATR.