Airbus A350: What you need to know

24 Jul 2019 by Tom Otley
British Airways A350

The A350XWB aircraft is a new-generation aircraft from Airbus.

It has a number of different configurations: A350-900; A350-1000 and a newly-announced ultra-long range configuration, allowing it to perform flights of up to 19 hours.

As with other New Generation aircraft such as Boeing’s Dreamliner, the A350 XWB appeals to both airlines and passengers.


The A350 offers efficiencies to the airlines ordering it

According to Airbus, these are:

  • A 25 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency and a 25 per cent lower seat-mile cost compared to current aluminium long-range competitors, such as the B777. The A350 XWB is powered by new fuel-efficient and quiet Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines
  • For every seat offered, the A350 XWB — or A350-900 — burns 9 per cent less fuel than the B787-9
  • This fuel-burn advantage, combined with lower maintenance costs, gives the A350-900 a 10 per cent lower cash operating cost per seat than the 787-9
  • With up to 35 more seats than the 787, the A350 XWB offers a potential revenue advantage of 10 per cent or more
To learn more about the aircraft, try Airbus’ informative website, which has some stunning visuals.

Passengers also see benefits

For passengers, the A350 has a flat cabin floor and 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.

In order to reduce jet lag, LED mood lighting changes gently throughout the flight, and the state-of-the-art air conditioning system splits the cabin into multiple zones and provides fresher air and more flexible temperature control.

The new entertainment systems on board show high definition video on upgraded screens of up to 12 inches even in economy. The bulky control boxes that can often inhibit legroom are built into the structure of the seat with the power cables accommodated underneath the floor.

The cockpit has also become a more comfortable and user-friendly environment, with instruments displayed on six interchangeable screens for added convenience and clarity for the pilot.

Under-the-bonnet innovations mean that the A350 is more efficient and greener than others in its class.

New Rolls Royce Trent XWB engines emit 25 per cent less C02 per passenger than current generation aircraft, and consume 25 per cent less fuel compared with those of the A350’s current aluminium long-range competitors.

They are also relatively stealthy, with exterior noise levels as much as 21 EPNdB (Effective Perceived Noise Decibel) below ICAO Capter-4 requirements.

The nearly all-composite 32-metre tapered wings change shape to provide more lift and less drag and fuel burn.

Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways was the launch airline for the A350, taking delivery of the first aircraft in December 2014.

For a Tried and Tested review of Qatar’s business class offering on board an A350 flight between Doha and Singapore..

Flight review: Qatar Airways A350-1000 Q Suite business class

The carrier has 76 A350s on order and is the largest A350 XWB customer. In October 2018, it was operating 30 A350 XWBs comprising of 27 A350-900s and 3 A350-1000s.

Finnair A350_XWB First delivery to Finnair -ferry flight take off


Finnair was the first European airline to take delivery of the A350-900 and the third worldwide, after Qatar Airways (see news, December 2014) and Vietnam Airlines (see news, June 30).

The 297-seat aircraft is configured in three classes with 208 seats in economy, 43 in Economy Comfort and 46 in business.

For a Tried and Tested review of the carrier’s business class service on board the aircraft’s delivery flight from Airbus’ Toulouse headquarters, see our review.

Flight review: Finnair A350-900 business class



TAM (now marketed under the unified LATAM brand) was the first South American carrier to take delivery of the A350 – for more information on the carrier’s A350 configuration and cabins, click here.

TAM began flying the aircraft between Manaus and Sao Paolo in early 2016.

Vietnam_Airlines_taxiing_side_view A350_XWB_

Vietnam Airlines

Vietnam Airlines currently has seven A350 aircraft in its fleet, with a total of 17 on order.

The carrier’s A350s seat 305 passengers, with 29 in business class, 45 in premium economy and 231 in economy.

Ethiopian Airlines A350-900`

Ethiopian Airlines

Ethiopian Airlines received its first A350-900 in June 2016 and became the first African A350XWB operator. The airline’s first aircraft, on lease from AerCap, arrived in Addis Ababa on June 29th, 2016.

The A350-900s have a two-class layout with a total of 343 seats comprising 30 in Business Class and 313 in Economy Class.

The carrier is deploying the aircraft on its expanding route network connecting Addis Ababa with destinations in Asia and America.

Ethiopian Airlines A350XWB business class

Cathay Pacific A350

Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific took delivery of its first A350 aircraft in May 2016 It has ordered 22.

The carrier’s A350-900s seat 280 passengers in three classes: 38 in business class (1-2-1), 28 in premium economy (2-4-2) and 214 in economy (3-3-3).

Flight review: Cathay Pacific A350-900 business class

Singapore Airlines SIA A350-900_ULR_SIA

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines took delivery of the first of 67 A350-900 aircraft in March 2016.

Seven of the carrier’s A350 deliveries will be for the ultra long-haul A350-900ULR variant.

Flight review: Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR business class

China Airlines A350

China Airlines

China Airlines took delivery of its first A350-900 on September 30, 2016, becoming the ninth carrier to operate the next-generation Airbus aircraft.

The Taiwanese airline has configured its A350s with 306 seats – 32 in business class, 31 in premium economy, and 243 in economy.

China Airlines has a total of 14 a350-900s on order.

Flight review: China Airlines A350-900 business class

Lufthansa A350


Lufthansa unveiled the first of 25 A350s in February 2017, with the aircraft currently operating routes from Munich to Delhi and Boston.

The first ten A350-900s delivered to Lufthansa will be based at Munich, and will offer a total of 293 seats – 48 in business class, 21 in premium economy, and 224 in economy.

The carrier has fitted new LED lighting technology onto the next-generation aircraft, which it says offers passengers 24 lighting scenarios in order to provide “the right type of light at the right time”.

Asiana A350 Economy Smartium


The Korean carrier is set to take delivery of its first A350 aircraft in May 2017, initially operating it on the Seoul Incheon- Hong Kong route.

The airline’s A350s will be configured with 311 seats across three classes – Business Smartium, economy and its new Economy Smartium seat offering, which will debut on the aircraft.

Malaysia Airlines

Malaysia Airlines has been replacing its A380s on some routes with A350s.

Flight review: Malaysia Airlines A350 business class

Useful links

Businesstraveller.com has a wealth of information on the airlines currently operating A350 aircraft, from images and videos, to seatplans and flight reviews.

Here are just a few links for each A350 carrier which you may find useful – for a full list of all A350 articles published by Business Traveller, including new routes and product information, click here.

Qatar Airways


Singapore Airlines

Cathay Pacific

Ethiopian Airlines


Vietnam Airlines

Thai Airways

China Airlines

American Airlines

Virgin Atlantic


Philippine Airlines


Air France-KLM

Loading comments...

Search Flight

See a whole year of Reward Seat Availability on one page at SeatSpy.com

Business Traveller UK September 2023 edition
Business Traveller UK September 2023 edition
Be up-to-date
Magazine Subscription
To see our latest subscription offers for Business Traveller editions worldwide, click on the Subscribe & Save link below