There was a crackle of excitement in the air as Finnair took delivery of its first A350-900 in Toulouse today. Working closely with Airbus, the Nordic carrier had been preparing the handover for ten years. “Today heralds an exciting chapter in our history,” CEO Pekka Vauramo said. “The A350 XWB is the future of flying. This is the moment we have been waiting for.”
The airline became the first to commit to the type in 2007 with an order for 19 A350 900s. The delivery makes it the A350 XWB’s third operator. “Ties between our two companies are becoming even stronger,” commented Fabrice Brégier. “I must thank Finnair for giving the A350 XWB such firm support.”
The aircraft will form the backbone of Finnair’s long-haul fleet at a time of strategic importance for the airline. It has ambitious plans to double passenger numbers to Asia by 2020, making Helsinki Europe’s gateway to the Far East.
CEO Vauramo added that the A350 XWB would “take customer comfort to a new level” with its spacious, elegant cabin and mood lighting that “can even mimic the Northern Lights.” Passengers can also enjoy inflight WiFi. The aircraft’s 25% step change in fuel efficiency would translate into “huge” CO2 reductions,” Mr Vauramo said.
The aircraft prepares for entry into service during October, operating on European routes. It’s scheduled to fly its first long haul mission in late November, from Helsinki to Shanghai. Other Asian destinations will soon follow.
“This is the beginning of a new era for Finnair,” said Maija Ignatius, Finnair’s A350 XWB Chief Purser. “Everything is new and rethought for modern flying. I believe passengers can sense the excitement and pride as we work in the new airplane. I’m honoured to call the A350 XWB my work place. The experience of flying will be redefined!”