Air China will begin final assembly of its first A350-900 in Toulouse. Delivery is scheduled for the third quarter of 2018.
The new A350 will have a cabin layout of 306 seats; Premium Business (32 seats), Premium Economy (31 seats), and Economy Class with Family Couch seating (243 seats).
It will initially be assigned to regional routes such as Hong Kong before they start flying long-haul European routes at the end of the year.
Currently, Air China operates an Airbus fleet of 201 aircraft, including 142 A320 Family aircraft and 59 A330 Family aircraft.
Sichuan Airlines, the largest all Airbus fleet carrier in China, has taken delivery of its first A350-900 leased from AerCap.
The delivery date, August 8th, is significant in Chinese culture with the numeral '8' signifying good fortune.
Sichuan Airlines A350 features a two-class cabin layout of 331 seats with 28 in business and 303 in economy.
The Chengdu-based air carrier adopted a baby panda (You You) from the Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. The “Panda Routes” livery has eight pandas, one of which has been inspired by You You and will be assigned to the Chengdu-Beijing route this month.
It is part of its mission to give a strategic partnership that promotes its brand, develops the region's Panda Culture, and supports the poverty mission of the Base.
A350: The Quietest and Most Eco-Friendly Airbus Aircraft
Powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, the high level of operational efficiency has a 25 per cent reduction in fuel burn and emissions, and significantly lower maintenance costs. The 350 is praised for being, "The most high-tech, most energy-efficient, most eco-friendly, most spacious and least noisy.”
The cabin features the technology to maintain cabin pressure at 6,000 feet and humidity at 20%. This means passengers are less likely to suffer from headaches or dizziness on long-distance flights. Cabin temperature is divided into seven independently controlled zones. The air is fully exchanged every 2 - 3 minutes and medical-grade filters are used to remove any unpleasant odors, providing passengers with fresh air at all times.
There are sleek, large wide-angle windows that have 18% more area than previous models. The use of natural lighting increases light transmission by 40%, making the cabin feel more bright and airy. With an automated Noise Abatement Departure Procedures (NADP), it makes for a 20% noise reduction compared to competing models. External noise is reduced by 21 decibels, making it the quietest of the new aircraft models.
Airbus recorded a total of 890 firm orders for the A350 from 46 customers worldwide, already making it one of the most successful wide-body aircraft ever.