Delta Air Lines is one step closer to starting services with its new A350-900 aircraft. The first of 25 of the high-tech aircraft took off for the first time from the Airbus assembly plant in Toulouse, France yesterday.
The aircraft, which is still to be painted in Delta colours (bar from the distinctive winglets) will now begin two months of exhaustive flight testing. The jet is set to be delivered to Delta in the summer with the first commercial service slated for Fall 2017.
Delta will configure its new fleet of aircraft with 306 seats. The all-new Business Class suites will debut on the new aircraft (dubbed Delta One) with 32 seats in the Delta One cabin, 48 ‘Premium Select’ seats and 226 seats in Economy Class (known as Main Cabin). The Delta One seat will be the first all-suite Business Class in the world and features a sliding door at every seat for privacy.
Powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, the aircraft will also be fitted with super-fast 2Ku-WiFi. Delta has said the system will allow gate-to-gate service and the ability to stream TV shows and music. Pricing for the new service has not yet been announced.
So far, Delta has been coy about what routes the A350 is set to operate. A spokesperson has said the aircraft is “expected to begin service in October on primarily transpacific routes.” There’s been speculation that Sydney (which would be upgraded from the current Boeing 777 fleet) will be included as well as Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Seoul.
By the end of the year, Delta is expected to have taken delivery of five of the new aircraft. They’ll initially replace Delta’s ageing fleet of Boeing 747-400’s. Passengers are set to enjoy a better flying experience with improved cabin air, LED lighting and a quieter environment. Airbus has touted the A350 as a more environmentally friendly and quieter aircraft compared to similarly sized jets.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.