Vietnam Airlines has joined Qatar Airways as the only two operators of Airbus’ new-generation A350 XWB to date, following the handover of the Xtra Wide Body jetliner on Tuesday.
The 305-seat aircraft will enter commercial revenue service later this week, operated on lease from AerCap, the world's largest aircraft leasing company, the French planemaker said in a press release the same day.
A ceremony was held at the Airbus facilities adjacent to Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in France to celebrate the milestone delivery, which makes the Vietnamese flag carrier the world’s second A350 XWB operator after Qatar Airways, according to Airbus.
With the A350 XWB in its fleet, Vietnam Airlines will bring a new level of service to passengers while also benefiting from enhanced profitability and increased competitiveness in the long-haul premium sector.
Vietnam is a key growth market in Asia and is expected to continue to record much higher-than-average growth in traffic, estimated at approximately 8.4 percent per year over the next 20 years, Airbus said, citing its latest Global Market Forecast.
Vietnam Airlines will deploy its very first A350 XWB for the Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh City service, and is slated to begin long-haul services from these two Vietnamese cities to Paris, France later in the year.
The airline will add a total of 14 A350-900s to its fleet, 10 of which will be delivered by Airbus, with the other four by lessors.
Vietnam Airlines’ A350 XWB is equipped with the latest aerodynamic design, carbon fiber fuselage and wings, and fuel-saving Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, which Airbus says will deliver “unrivalled levels of operating efficiency.”
The jetliner, the latest member in the Airbus widebody family, also features the lotus flower logo and distinct gold livery of Vietnam Airlines, whereas its interior design is enhanced to further increase comfort and spaciousness, according to Airbus.
“This aircraft puts Vietnam Airlines at the forefront – not only of Asia’s aviation industry – but also the world’s,” Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Brégier said at the delivery ceremony.
Airbus has a 20-year relationship with Vietnam, after its aircraft became the first Western types to be operated in the Southeast Asian country in 1995.
Airbus jetliners have since served as a platform for Vietnam Airlines to grow at home and abroad, and also have contributed to the Vietnamese economy’s development, the planemaker said.
Besides the newly-received A350 XWB, Vietnam Airlines currently operates 59 Airbus-built aircraft, including 49 single-aisle A321s and 10 widebody A330s.
Vietnam Airlines will soon receive a flagship jetliner from another famed planemaker, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, which wowed the world with a jaw-dropping flying display at an airshow in France last month.
Delivery of the aircraft is slated for sometime in mid-2015.