Air France has taken delivery of its first A350 ahead of the aircraft’s entry into service in October.
The flag carrier is set to receive 28 of the A350-900 variant by 2025, with six in the air by the end of next year.
The first routes will be Abidjan in Ivory Coast and Bamako in Mali from October 7, followed by Toronto from October 27 and Cairo and Seoul from December 9.
The aircraft will be configured with 34 seats in business, 24 in premium economy and 266 in economy.
The business class seat looks to be the fully-flat Optima seat, with a 1-2-1 layout providing aisle access for all passengers. We are awaiting confirmation from the airline.
While Air France-KLM group CEO Ben Smith has been attempting to streamline and simplify Air France’s products, the Thomson Vantage is another addition to its long-haul business class offerings.
Its B777s and B787s feature the Cirrus seat by Zodiac Aerospace in a 1-2-1 ‘reverse herringbone’ configuration, while its A330s are being retrofitted with the Equinox 2D seat by Stelia Aerospace in a 2-2-2 configuration.
Premium economy on the A350 will offer 18.8 inches of width, 38 inches of pitch, a 13.3-inch touchscreen and 124 degree recline.
Passengers get a pillow and duvet, additional storage space, an improved meal offering an amenity kit, though the seats do not recline within a fixed shell like the premium economy product on Air France’s Dreamliners and A330s.
Economy seats will offer a 31-inch pitch and 118 degrees of recline, with a 11.6-inch screen.
All passengers will be able to access wifi, including a free messaging service, a ‘surf’ pass for internet browsing and emails costing between €3 and €18, and a ‘stream’ pass offering high-speed internet for downloads for €30.
The first A350 has been named “Toulouse” after the main base of Airbus.
The new-generation aircraft is touted as being 25 per cent more fuel efficient than long-range competitors such as the B777. It is powered by new fuel-efficient and quiet Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines.
For passengers, straighter side-walls aim to give more head and shoulder room, and larger overhead storage in business class will be able to hold two roller-bags per passenger.
BT’s Tom Otley recently reviewed the inaugural BA flight from London Heathrow to Dubai International:
The Virgin Atlantic review of London Heathrow to New York JFK is here
An Air France review of Paris CDG to Toronto will be posted here in October.