With only a few weeks to go before Delta Air Lines takes delivery of its brand new Airbus A350-900 aircraft, the first jet sporting Delta colours left the paint workshop Tuesday. The European aircraft manufacturer, Airbus, has released a picture of the aircraft, named ‘Ship 3501’, on the tarmac at its headquarters in Toulouse, France.
Before Delta gets its hands on the aircraft, it will undergo further flight testing by Airbus engineers – if all goes well, delivery is slated for July. Delta hopes to have the first of its A350’s flying by the fall although the final route network has yet to be announced.
However, while Delta is remaining coy, it has gone so far as to say they plan to use them on ‘trans-Pacific routes’. It’s believed that could include China’s capital, Beijing, as well as Shanghai, Hong Kong and Seoul. Sydney has also been touted as a possible destination.
The fuselage of the revolutionary aircraft is made of carbon-fibre reinforced plastic and it’s wings, with a span of 64.75 metres, feature ‘winglets’ that are more efficient and quieter than comparable aircraft wings. Inside, passengers will benefit from a quieter environment, better air filtration and the ‘Airspace‘ concept that features higher cabin ceilings, larger luggage bins and advanced LED lighting.
The A350 has been certified with a maximum capacity of 440 passengers but Airbus anticipates most airlines to configure the jet with 325 seats. Delta, however, is going lower still with room for just 306 passengers – 226 seats in Economy Class (known as Main Cabin), 48 in the new premium economy cabin and 32 Delta One business class suites.
Delta plans to unveil its all new Delta One suite on the A350 which features all aisle access and sliding doors at every seat. The Atlanta-based carrier had hoped to be the first airline to bring the sliding door concept to a Business Class seat but it now looks like Qatar Airways of Doha will beat them to it with their competing QSuite product.
“Added comfort and privacy are important to business travellers, and that drove the design of the all-new Delta One suite,” commented Tim Mapes, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer.
“After setting the standard with the introduction of full flat-bed seats with direct aisle access in 2008, Delta is again elevating the international business class experience.”
Following the launch of the Delta One suite on its A350 aircraft, the carrier plans to progressively roll out the product on it’s Boeing 777 fleet. The A350 will also be Delta’s first foray into a proper Premium Economy product. Dubbed ‘Delta Premium Select’, the A350 will have 48 seats in a new cabin that sits between economy and business.
Passengers will enjoy a seat pitch of 38 inches and each seat will be 19 inches wide. The new seats also feature adjustable headrests and footrests – long removed from standard economy cabins. The soft product includes a Westin Heavenly in-flight blanket and pillow, as well as a TUMI branded amenity kit. Delta plans to offer upgraded meal services and a pre-departure drink.
Just like the Delta One Suites, the Premium Select cabin will roll out on Delta’s 777 fleet starting in 2018.
In May, Delta announced they would be deferring delivery of 10 of the A350 aircraft on order with Airbus. The carrier has ordered a total of 25 A350 but now plans to push the delivery schedule from 2019/2020 to 2022/2023.
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.