Air France Schedules First North American A350 Route

Filed Under: Air France/KLM

A few weeks ago I wrote about how Air France had 21 Airbus A350-900s on order, the first of which will be delivered later this year. In addition to this being a new aircraft type for the airline, perhaps the most interesting part of this development is that Air France plans on introducing yet another business class product on this plane.

Air France will be installing Zodiac Optima seats in A350 business class, which is also what United uses for their new Polaris seats.

Air France’s new A350 business class

Otherwise Air France has reverse herringbone seats on most of their long haul aircraft, though the A350 configuration will be denser. So it’s an interesting choice on Air France’s part.

Air France’s 787 business class

While Air France’s first route scheduled to be operated by the A350 is to Bamako, Mali, and Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, as of September 23, 2019, the airline has now revealed another route to get the plane.

As of November 25, 2019, Air France intends to use an Airbus A350-900 for their Paris to Toronto route, which as of now is scheduled to be the first North American route to be operated by this plane type.

The flight will operate with the following schedule:

AF356 Paris to Toronto departing 2:25PM arriving 4:45PM
AF351 Toronto to Paris departing 6:45PM arriving 8:10AM (+1 day)

Currently Air France uses a 777-200 for the route, so the route will continue to feature three classes of service.

While I’m not convinced this actually represents an improvement to Air France’s business class product, I suspect the airline is viewing this plane as a bit of a new “flagship,” and therefore I found the decision to fly it to Toronto first to be interesting.

Keep in mind that British Airways chose Toronto as their first A350-1000 route, which will feature their new Club Suite.

If you’re looking to redeem miles on this route, Air France’s Toronto to Paris route is a pretty easy one for scoring business class award seats in winter.

There are lots of days where you can redeem just 60,000 Flying Blue miles for a one-way business class ticket.

Flying Blue has dynamic award pricing, and in some cases you’ll even find lower fares than that, like 52,000 miles for a ticket from Toronto to Paris to Prague.

Anyone plan to fly Air France’s A350? Would you rather fly their current or “new” business class seat?

Comments
  1. Air France new CEO and his chief of staff are both from Air Canada and grew the Toronto hub. Could be a sentimental decision for them.

  2. Purely to compete with BA in the ‘one-stop J to America/Canada’ market in Europe – nothing more – hence why it is the same route. Any other ideas, Ben?

  3. British Airways is flying their A350-1000 not A350-900 t Toronto*
    Also just curious, KLM has an order for 7 A350-900s as well, will they join KLMs Fleet or did I hear the rumor that they were all going to Air France?

  4. @ Alex Conway — I didn’t make that claim? I simply pointed out how it was interesting that the first North American destination for the new A350s of both Air France and British Airways is Toronto. That’s a fact. Not at all suggesting they’re doing it to compete with one another…

  5. @ Will — Typo on my part, thanks. Fixed. It’s my understanding that Air France will be taking all the A350s.

  6. It’s interesting, Canadian cities seem to be consistent candidates for new aircraft types within North America. BA for the A35K (they also launched their first regular 787 service ever with Toronto), Montreal had the first AF 787s, KLM’s 787-10s will make their North American debut in Toronto, and TAP’s second A330NEO route to North America was Toronto. Cathy’s first North American A359 route was Vancouver.

  7. @Jeff you are confused,

    The CEO of Air France is a French woman – Anne Rigail

    The CEO of the AF-KLM group is indeed ex Air Canada and male.

  8. Are they feeling pressure to compete against Air Canada on those routes? Unlike in the US, where their competition is offering a mixed bag of hard and soft products, Air Canada is at least pretty consistently decent.

  9. It’s important to remember that Air Canada is super dominant for Canadian point of sale. There are few analogues among G7 majors. This includes not only the major hubs (YYZ YUL YVR) but also every small town in between. They are a tough competitor as literally *everyone* has discovered over the years.

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