Air India’s first Airbus A350-900 has begun commercial operations, marking the airline’s ongoing transformation efforts as it aims to return to the “upper echelons of world aviation”. 

The aircraft (VT-JRA) departed Mumbai for Chennai on 22 January, and will be deployed on other domestic flights to Bengaluru, Delhi and Hyderabad in the coming weeks for crew familiarisation and regulatory compliance. 

Air India A350_VT-JRA

Source: Air India

Air India’s first A350-900 will initially operate on domestic routes

“The aircraft will be later deployed for long-haul flights to destinations across continents, strengthening Air India’s growing fleet of widebody fleet, comprising its own and recently leased aircraft,” the Star Alliance carrier states. 

The airline does not indicate where on the international network it will deploy them, but says the aircraft’s long range enables nonstop flights from India to Australia, the USA and Canada. 

Air India also confirms it will be rolling out a cabin upgrade of its existing widebodies from mid-2024, as it continues to receive its A350s. The carrier has 20 A350s on order, and will take delivery of five more examples through March. 

The airline’s first A350 – together with its cabin products – was unveiled at the Wings India airshow in Hyderabad on 18 January. The aircraft has 316 seats in a three-class configuration: 28 business-class suites, 24 seats in premium economy, and 264 seats in economy. 

Airline chief Campbell Wilson hails the “game-changer” A350, adding that the aircraft will “open up new routes and opportunities for expansion”. 

“Together with the full interior refit of our legacy widebody aircraft commencing mid-2024, this [upgrade] of fleet and product is a key pillar of returning Air India to the upper echelons of world aviation,” he adds.