A350 (finally) takes to the skies over China

After months and months of delays with their certification to operate in mainland China the very auspicious 8/8 saw two airlines take delivery of the type. Air China went first, departing the Airbus Delivery Center in Toulouse this morning with the first of ten A350-900s the carrier has on order.

Powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, Air China’s A350-900 aircraft features a comfortable three-class cabin layout of 312 seats: 32 business, 24 premium economy and 256 economy.

The airline will initially operate the new aircraft on its domestic routes, followed by flights to international destinations.

Love me an A350 wingtip!
Love me an A350 wingtip!

Sichuan Airlines also took delivery of its first A350-900 today, just a few hours after Air China’s ceremony. Sichuan is an all-Airbus airline with a fleet 135 strong. It was the first A320 operator in Mainland China and the first to take an A320 delivery from the Tianjin final assembly line. The carrier agreed to lease four A350-900s from AerCap in 2016 (this is one of those aircraft) and earlier this year placed an order directly with Airbus for ten more.

Sichuan Airlines’ A350-900 aircraft features a comfortable two-class cabin layout of 331 seats: 28 business, and 303 economy. The airline will initially operate the new aircraft on its domestic routes, followed by its international “Panda Routes”.

Also, the special livery that Sichuan Airways chose for its first A350 is spectacular and is shown off nicely in this “making of” video.

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On the political front the approval by the CAAC of the A350 is a long awaited milestone for Airbus and the airlines. Delays in the that certification were long considered to be more political than technical and eventually State meetings in China with French President Emanuel Macron helped clear some of the challenges away. Brief additional delivery delays were marketing-related, allowing the carriers to take delivery on the double eight date; the number 8 is considered lucky in China owing to its similarity in pronunciation to the word for prosperity.

Seth Miller has over a decade of experience covering the airline industry. With a strong focus on passenger experience, Seth also has deep knowledge of inflight connectivity and loyalty programs. He is widely respected as an unbiased commentator on the aviation industry. He is frequently consulted on innovations in passenger experience by airlines and technology providers. You can connect with Seth on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .