The operator base for Airbus’ new-generation A350 XWB is extending to East Asia with handover of the Xtra Wide Body jetliner to Vietnam Airlines. This aircraft will enter commercial revenue service later in the week, operated on lease from AerCap.
Today’s milestone delivery, celebrated during a ceremony at Airbus facilities adjacent to Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in France, makes Vietnam Airlines the world’s second A350 XWB operator after the jetliner’s introduction in January by launch customer Qatar Airways.
With the A350 XWB in its fleet, Vietnam Airlines will bring a new level of service to passengers while also benefiting from enhanced profitability and increased competitiveness in the long-haul premium sector. Vietnam is a key growth market in Asia and is expected to continue to record much higher-than-average growth in traffic – estimated at approximately 8.4 per cent per annum over the next 20 years, according to Airbus’ latest Global Market Forecast.
A shared passion for aviation
Vietnam Airlines’ no. 1 A350 XWB – an A350-900 version – initially will be flown on the carrier’s Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh route, and will begin long-haul services from these two Vietnamese cities to Paris, France later in the year. The airline will introduce a total of 14 A350-900s into its fleet, composed of 10 received from Airbus and the other four from lessors.
“Thank you, Airbus, for building us a great airplane with the latest innovative technologies,” said Trinh Ngoc Thanh, Vietnam Airlines’ Executive Vice President - Commercial, during the A350 XWB delivery ceremony. “Our corporate slogan is ‘Reach further,’ and with the A350 XWB, we are fully committed to providing our valued customers with a memorable flying experience that reaches new heights.”
The relationship with Vietnam dates back 20 years when Airbus aircraft became the first Western types to be operated in the country. Since then, the company’s jetliners have served as a platform for Vietnam Airlines to grow at home and abroad, and also have contributed to the Vietnamese economy’s development. In addition to the newly-received A350 XWB, Vietnam Airlines currently operates 59 Airbus-built aircraft: 49 single-aisle A321s and 10 widebody A330s.
AerCap: the importance of aircraft lessors
The first A350 XWB’s delivery for operation by Vietnam Airlines also puts a spotlight on the growing role of aircraft leasing companies in today’s evolving air transport industry. Among the leaders is AerCap, which is Airbus’ largest single customer – with cumulative orders for 945 jetliners. Based in Amsterdam, AerCap serves 200 customers in approximately 90 countries and has firm orders for a total of 20 A350 XWBs.
At today’s A350 XWB delivery ceremony, AerCap President and Chief Commercial Officer Philip Scruggs highlighted Vietnam Airlines’ evolution from Russian-built aircraft to a modern fleet. “Today, Vietnam Airlines leads all of Asia as it introduces the A350,” he told the audience of invited guests and VIPs.
Making the freedom of flight even better
The no. 1 Vietnam Airlines aircraft is a beauty inside and out. Its streamlined exterior lines underscore many of the key A350 XWB elements that are setting new standards for aviation: the latest aerodynamic design, carbon fibre fuselage and wings, and fuel-saving Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines – which together deliver unrivalled levels of operating efficiency.
Adding a special touch is the Vietnam Airlines logo on the vertical tail, featuring one of the most enduring and meaningful symbols of Vietnamese culture: the Lotus flower; while the livery’s distinct gold colouring underscores this jetliner’s high quality and evokes a sense of luxury.
Leveraging smart innovation by Airbus, the A350 XWB’s cabin design adds to the pleasant aesthetics, incorporating smooth curves, flowing lines, innovative lighting and wide windows – with straighter side walls and a flat floor in the cabin further increasing overall comfort and spaciousness.
A350 XWB comfort in all three classes of service
Configured with a premium three-class layout, Vietnam Airlines’ A350 XWB has seating for 305 passengers – with 29 Business seats that convert to full flat beds, 45 seats in Premium Economy and 231 in Economy.
In addition to more personal space in all classes, this aircraft features the latest in-flight entertainment and connectivity systems throughout.
“The A350 is the latest member our widebody family, and the result of about a decade’s development by thousands of engineers,” Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Brégier told invited guests at today’s delivery ceremony. “This aircraft puts Vietnam Airlines at the forefront – not only of Asia’s aviation industry -- but also the world’s. That is exactly where Vietnam Airlines belongs.”
The lotus flower – which is featured in the distinctive livery of the first Airbus A350 XWB jetliner for Vietnam Airlines – is one of the most meaningful symbols of the Vietnamese people, with the gold color chosen to show the high quality of Vietnam Airlines’ product and evoke a sense of luxury