Vietnam Airlines has become the second airline to take delivery of an Airbus A350 XWB widebody and will follow Qatar Airways to become the second airline to introduce the A350-900 into commercial service.
Skyteam alliance member Vietnam Airlines took delivery at a ceremony at Airbus’ delivery center in Toulouse on June 30 of the first of 14 Airbus A350-900s it is due to receive.
The airline’s first A350-900 was actually officially delivered to AerCap, the world’s largest aircraft-leasing company.
AerCap had ordered the aircraft along with 19 other A350-900s and agreed its lease to the airline.
The aircraft was scheduled to arrive at Vietnam Airlines’ main base at Hanoi’s Nội Bài International Airport on July 1.
Vietnam Airlines’ first A350-900 is one of four it has agreed to lease, the carrier also having ordered 10 A350-900s directly from Airbus.
The carrier will operate its A350-900s on long-haul routes, but will inaugurate commercial service with the A350 XWB later this week on its domestic trunk route linking Hanoi with Ho Chi Minh City’s Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport.
However, Vietnam Airlines will quickly move its first A350-900 on to operating non-stop flights between Hanoi and Paris.
In Vietnam Airlines service, the A350-900 is configured with a three-class layout, with 29 full-flat bed seats in Business Class, 45 seats in Premium Economy and 231 in Economy. The aircraft features the latest in-flight entertainment and connectivity systems throughout.
Vietnam Airlines’ new A350-900 will join 59 other Airbus aircraft it already operates: 49 A321s and 10 A330-200s.
“The arrival of the A350 XWB marks the start of a major upgrade of our long-haul fleet,” said Trinh Ngoc Thanh, Vietnam Airlines’ executive vice president, commercial. “Combining the latest technologies, a wider cabin and the highest levels of comfort, the A350 XWB will enable us to fly our passengers in style whichever class of travel they choose.”
AerCap is Airbus’ largest customer, and has ordered a cumulative total of 945 Airbus aircraft over the years. These include firm orders for a total of 20 A350 XWBs.
To date, Airbus has recorded firm orders for 781 A350 XWB widebodies from 40 customers.
The aircraft handed over on June 30 is the fifth A350 XWB to be delivered, following the type’s entry into commercial service earlier this year with Qatar Airways, its first operator.