The A350 XWB’s participation in this week’s Singapore Airshow comes as the new-generation Airbus widebody jetliner marks the successful first year of airline revenue service, and its presence is particularly appropriate with the aircraft’s popularity throughout the dynamic Asia-Pacific market.
Of the 750-plus A350 XWB orders received to date, approximately one-third are from Asia-Pacific customers. According to Joost van der Heijden, Airbus' Head of Marketing for Asia, the A350 XWB is the “right aircraft” for Asia-Pacific, which is confirmed by its growing commercial success in the region.
“The A350 XWB's higher capacity and lower seat-mile costs make it ideal to accommodate Asia’s strong traffic growth in the most profitable way, while its superior comfort and brand-new cabin provide additional passenger attractiveness in a competitive and comfort-sensitive Asian market,” he added.
Asian carriers ordering the aircraft are AirAsia X, Air China, Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Japan Airlines, Singapore Airlines, SriLankan Airlines, Thai Airways International (THAI) and Vietnam Airlines – which received its no. 1 A350 XWB during 2015.
A growing A350-900 fleet in airline service around the globe
The A350 XWB began commercial operations with launch customer Qatar Airways in January 2015 following an extended flight test campaign that ensured high maturity and reliability at service entry. A total of 15 of these A350-900 versions had been delivered as of January 31 to four operators on four continents – Qatar Airways, Vietnam Airlines, Finnair and TAM Airlines. The global fleet has accumulated more than 21,000 flight hours in service to 17 destinations worldwide, with an average daily utilisation of 11.6 hours.
These figures will continue to grow as the A350 XWB operator base expands, including Singapore Airlines – which is soon to receive its no. 1 aircraft. This long-time Airbus customer was the first to commit to the A350 XWB with an agreement for 20 in 2006. Since then, its acquisition has grown to 67 aircraft, reflecting Singapore Airlines' confidence in the programme and the jetliner’s new-generation benefits.
Singapore Airlines’ orders include seven Ultra Long Range versions of the A350-900, enabling non-stop service to the U.S. West Coast, as well as New York. Designated the A350-900ULR, they will include a modified fuel system to augment the fuel carrying capacity and a corresponding increase in maximum take-off weight. Initial deliveries are planned for 2018.
As the A350 XWB programme continues moving forward on the commercial side, a major industrial milestone achieved earlier this month has brought the product line's longest-fuselage member – the A350-1000 – another step closer to reality.
The first A350-1000 version takes shape
A350-1000 build-up is now underway on Airbus' A350 XWB final assembly line in Toulouse, France, where this version will be built concurrently with the A350-900. Underscoring the high degree of commonality between the A350-900 and A350-1000, all final assembly line stations can accommodate both aircraft types.
The A350-1000 can carry a total of 366 passengers in a typical three-class configuration, and integrates Airbus’ standard comfort in economy class with 18-inch-wide seats at nine-abreast, while its range of 7,950 nm. represents a significant revenue-generating advantage for operators. To date, the A350-1000 has received 181 orders from 10 customers around the globe.
During the Singapore Airshow, the presence of an A350-900 in the static and flying display is being complemented by Air Transport World magazine’s recognition of the A350 XWB programme. This leading airline industry publication selected the A350 XWB for its 2016 Aviation Technology Achievement Award, an honour presented to Kiran Rao – Airbus’ Head of Strategy – during a gala dinner in downtown Singapore.