British Airways’ First A350 Emerges From Paint Shop

Filed Under: British Airways

This is an exciting summer for British Airways, as they take delivery of their very first Airbus A350. The airline has a total of 18 Airbus A350-1000s on order, the first of which is expected to be delivered very shortly.

What’s most exciting about these A350s is that they feature British Airways’ new Club Suites, which are their new business class seats with doors.

For those of you tracking the progress of this project, British Airways has just shared pictures of their very first fully painted A350, as the plane just emerged from the paint shop.

I have to say, the plane looks gorgeous in British Airways’ livery, in my opinion. I love how even the wingtips are painted.

It’s my understanding that the A350-1000 is already equipped with the new Club Suites, so the plane is more or less ready to go. In the next few days the plane should operate its first test flight (without passengers), and hopefully in the coming weeks the plane will be in commercial service.

They don’t need to do many test flights, since this isn’t a new aircraft type for Airbus, or anything.

Last I heard, British Airways planned to fly the A350 between London and Madrid as of July 1, 2019. As of now the schedule hasn’t been updated to reflect that. It’s possible that the timeline for that slips a bit given that this is a brand new aircraft type for the airline.

While we don’t yet know which frequency the plane would operate, logically you’d think it would replace the daily Boeing 777-200 that the carrier flies between the two oneworld hubs.

British Airways will operate the A350 exclusively between London and Madrid for several months in order to familiarize crews with the plane and work out any kinks. After that the plane will fly to Toronto, Dubai, Tel Aviv, and Bangalore, as follows:

  • The A350 will fly to Toronto as of October 1, 2019
  • The A350 will fly to Dubai as of October 8, 2019
  • The A350 will fly to Tel Aviv as of December 1, 2019
  • The A350 will fly to Bangalore as of January 1, 2020

I’m hoping to test out the new Club Suite shortly after it debuts between London and Madrid. I’m most interested in just trying the seat and don’t really need to try it on a long haul, given that I’ve reviewed British Airways’ long haul business class soft product recently.

Not at all significant, but I’m amused that one of the pictures that British Airways shares has two Hainan/Hong Kong Airlines planes in the background. HNA Group is apparently struggling to finance planes, so I can’t help but wonder if that’s why there are two parked there.

Anyone excited to try British Airways’ new A350?

Comments

  1. Ben – Will this flight between Madrid and Heathrow also allow you to sample the new Club Europe soft product – apparently the food is now supposed to be excellent? I also recall that Iberia, when they got their A350-900s, they also tested them between Heathrow and Madrid when they were training crews – given who owns both airlines, do you think this is a coincidence?

  2. This is such an important plane for BA. Having drifted far behind their competition over the years, the J product has to be good enough to take them back into contention.

    I have a Toronto trip to do this Autumn: I’m hugely looking forward to trying it.

  3. I’m very excited to try new club seat even on a short-haul flight.

    Scheduled to be in London in mid-September to position—and to hang out in London and Madrid, of course!

    Hoping it will be available by points, but even cash will do.

  4. Do we know the seating chart yet?

    I’m surprised they ordered the A350 instead of the 787-10 only because they already have the 787-8 and -9. But the 787-10 has a shorter range, may be that’s why?

    Livery looks great on this aircraft, although I wish they had painted the wing tips a solid color.

  5. It’s time for a new livery for BA. The current one is soooo 1990s.
    I really thought that for this 100th anniversary year, they would announce a new livery, appearing on the now-cancelled 747 domestic routes, or on the first A350

  6. @ e30st

    I agree. In fact the retro liveries have really shown up how meh the current one is.

  7. I will disagree on the livery – I think it remains fresh/modern and is iconic! It is ageing well so no need to mess about with it. Given the trends airlines take on liveries and the rest of IAG’s “white body, minor paint effect on the tail”… I think a change would only ruin it!

    I agree with Lucky on the wingtips – I like them!

  8. What I don’t understand is why airlines buy these long haul planes and fly them on short routes? London-Toronto? London-Tel Aviv?
    BA also flies a 787 to NYC.

    Waste of aircraft in my opinion unless I’m missing something…

  9. I completely agree on the livery. I really expected BA to show us a new one with the A350. Its current Chatham Dockyard livery has been around since 1997 and it’s one of the oldest in the skies. As part of the centenary I believe it’s time they update it no matter how nice it looks

  10. I completely disagree on the livery. The tailfins look as fresh and distinctive as they did when they launched two decades ago (as the special Concorde livery in the “world images” identity).

    While I’d agree the logotype and the flying ribbon (an unimpressive graphical nod to the “speedbird”) look as tired and lumpen as they did at launch – but they are the least important elements of the livery.

    Strong corporate identities should be relatively timeless, only flexing here and there as needed (eg, the BBC’s logo was slightly tweaked so that it worked better in the digital environment where it was increasingly seen). The whole point is that consistency over time creates ever-greater impact.

    BA is introducing new staff uniforms this year – long overdue – and design tweaks to the cabins are enough to update the look.

  11. @ Robel

    Operating shorthaul and ‘short’ longhaul routes when aircraft are first introduced is a deliberate action to maximise the number of flight and cabin crew who familiarise themselves with the new aircraft. Operating shorter sectors means that at least 2 sectors can be are flown within each 24 hour period. If they went straight into service on ultra-long flights, such as to the Far East and South America, you would not even get two, especially when the schedule gives long turnarounds on the ground at the other end.
    I remember that when BA first introduced the 747-400, one of it’s first routes was London – Montreal – Detroit, deliberately chosen in order to allow 4 landings and take-offs within 24 hours!

  12. @redrobbo yes I understand that airlines want to fly short haul to begin with, but aren’t BA using this plane to fly to Toronto and tel aviv?
    You’re saying they decide to fly this plane simply so they can turn it around faster?

  13. Also, the 747-400 has been flying london-NYC for years, as well as a 787. If you say this is just so they can do 2 roundtrips instead of one, then maybe it makes sense. But why not use an A330 instead? It would probably be cheaper to fly and maintain….

  14. @Robel

    Yes – shorthaul sectors give maximum sectors for the flight crew, but not the longhaul product experience for the cabin crew. Once the number of flight crew with hands-on experience has started to build up, the shorter longhaul sectors come in to play to give the best of both worlds before moving on to routes that really benefit from what the A350-1000 has to offer.

    As for the A350 vs A330 discussion, I think we should trust that the experts within every purchasing airline have exercised due diligence and come to the decision that makes financial sense for their requirements!

  15. Missing the point again!
    As far as I am aware, BA still does not have fully integrated long haul/short haul crew.
    Flying the A350 LHR-MAD would be with short haul crew, or if not, long haul crew working short haul rosters!
    Then flying it long haul, who would it be, long haul crew if they did the Beta testing, but would still be available for short haul with this plane, or short haul crews who would work long haul rosters as they too are licensed for this plane.
    Hey presto, behind the scenes BA gets a step nearer to integrating its crews, which it has been trying to do since BOAC and BEA merged into it!
    And as for the uniform not ANOTHER one! So many changes over the years. Why can’t someone recognise brand identity. EK have done, and even more so SQ with no change to livery nor uniform since breakaway from MSA, decades ago.
    Consistency works well, and in IT speak, if it aint broke don’t fix it.
    What’s REALLY wrong with either? NOTHING!

  16. I’d love to get on one of the crew training flights but I’ve got a mega work trip of over two months at the beginning of July so I don’t think I’ll be able to make it

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