The dust is still settling on the Air India order announcement, the largest in commercial aviation history. Yesterday, Air India CEO Campbell Wilson talked to the members of the media about the order and various other plans for the airline. While many of the things he mentioned were already known, such as the fact that the Vistara brand will no longer exist after the merger of Air India and Vistara is completed, one of the confirmations he gave out was about the immediate induction of the A350 aircraft.
Air India to induct 6 A350-900 aircraft built for Aeroflot.
When Air India announced it had ordered Airbus A350s with short delivery timelines, it was clear that these were initially intended for another airline. Specifically, these six A350-900 aircraft, to be delivered in 2023, were intended for Aeroflot.
Aeroflot had ordered 22 Airbus A350-900 aircraft back in the day, and they started induction of these aircraft into their fleet in March 2020, when the first one was delivered to the airline. A total of 7 A350-900s were delivered to the airline, and the remaining 15 were to be delivered by the end of 2023.
With the sanctions imposed on Russia due to the current geopolitical situation, Airbus will no longer be able to deliver these aircraft to Aeroflot. Hence, Airbus was looking for new buyers. As a part of the process, Turkish Airlines ordered a further six A350-900 aircraft in May 2022, which were to be delivered to them between 2022 and 2023. And now, another six of these airframes will head to Air India.
Air India to up the passenger experience with the new A350-900 aircraft.
Another confirmation yesterday was that Air India would induct these aircraft in the original Layout of Passenger Amenities (LOPA) as designed for Aeroflot. Air India is already in the midst of a massive redesign of their own product, and for the time being, they have multiple aircraft flying, which sports products designed for other carriers. And there are other airlines, such as Turkish Airlines, flying the product designated for Aeroflot.
These A350-900 aircraft feature a brand-new elegant cabin design. The aircraft has a spacious three-class cabin layout with 316 seats: 28 private Business Class suites with full-flat seats, 24 Comfort Class with extra legroom and 264 Economy Class. In addition, the aircraft has the Panasonic eX3 in-flight entertainment system, HD screens and Wi-Fi connectivity. Here is a look at the seat map.
Air India’s A350-900 aircraft to feature a business class with doors
Air India will receive A350-900 aircraft with 28 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration and direct aisle access from all business class seats.
These are Collins Aerospace Horizon seats, similar to what Delta uses. The trims are pretty nice as well. Apart from some Air India branding, I expect a few changes to this cabin.
A bar area for business class passengers will also be right behind the cabin.
Premium Economy to feature 2-4-2 configuration, with a 3-3-3 configuration for Economy.
The premium economy seating on the A350s will be 2-4-2, making a total of 24 seats. Some people may not like this configuration because of the 2-4-2, but it looks roomy. The seats used are the Collins Aerospace MIQ seats, which you can find on Vistara’s domestic business class on the A320neos as well.
And finally, the Economy looks good as well. At least the padding on the Collins Aerospace Aspire seats, in a 3-3-3 configuration, looks suitable for today’s era. The seat pitch will be 31 inches here.
Air India has six airframes already earmarked, and these should commence delivery in the second half of 2023, with Rolls Royce engines for all of them (as RR is the sole supplier of engines for the A350).
Air India will induct A350-900 aircraft in 2023, which were earlier designated for Aeroflot. As a part of the induction, Air India will continue with the same LOPA and product installed on board, which was initially to be delivered to Aeroflot itself. There will be 28 2-4-2 configuration business class seats with doors on board as well.
What do you think of the new Air India A350-900 coming soon?
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Feels stressful to hear this. I was hoping that AI would design a brand new interior but sadly this is what it is. I at least hope they change the interior colors, because it will all be AI’s own planes, and Delta did this when they brought used A350s from Latam. Repainting and reupholstering the old latam seats and cabin, to new delta color. AI should also do that.
I do wonder what they will do to tackle product inconsistency when their new interior design and products come online?
Will their entire fleet be revamped, and if so, how long are we talking?
United with Polaris have taken the best part of a decade, BA with their club suites still have a few old club ying yang seats in service.
Product inconsistency could be a real millstone around Air India’s neck if they are not too careful.
(For the record, these temporary products, ex Delta and ex Aeroflot, are an improvement on legacy Air India!)
@Dev, their own aircraft will come with their own LOPA, and these 6 A350-900 will stay as a subfleet. As for the 777/787s, AI promises a quick refurb but I don’t think that will be done quickly (the $400 million question).