Having proudly taken delivery of its very first A350-1000 earlier this year, British Airways (BA) is currently in the process of rolling out the larger variant of the A350XWB family aircraft into its fleet. However, the delivery schedule of the total 18 A350-1000s that the British flagship carrier has on order from Airbus could now be impacted. Airbus is reportedly undertaking repairs to BA’s latest A350-1000, which was damaged in an “incident” at the manufacturer’s facility.
BA took delivery of its very first A350-1000 (reg. G-XWBA) on July 29, 2019, at the plane maker’s headquarters in Toulouse, France, Airbus announced in an official statement at the time. With the delivery, the British carrier, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, became the first operator of the variant in the International Airlines Group (IAG) (IAG).
Currently, the British flagship airline has two brand-new A350-1000s in its fleet and another 16 of these jets on order from Airbus, as the manufacturer’s latest figures (as of October 31, 2019) show.
The British carrier’s new A350-1000s are scheduled to be delivered by the end of 2022 and will replace its Boeing 747-400s, which are due to be phased out of BA’s mainline fleet by 2024 (for now, with over 30 of these aircraft, BA is the world’s largest operator of the 747-400).
However, a wrench has now been thrown in the airline’s plans. Airbus has reportedly confirmed that a soon-to-be-delivered British Airways A350-1000 suffered an “incident”, the details of which have not been disclosed, resulting in surface damage to the aircraft.
The incident took place in a paint shop where the A350-1000 was parked at and that the damage was caused by a piece of equipment surrounding the aircraft. Airbus is now working to repair the plane and expects to be able to deliver the aircraft soon: “Airbus has assured us that the aircraft will be fully repaired and delivered shortly,” a spokesman for BA told AeroTime.
British Airways were initially to fly the new aircraft between London and Madrid prior to moving on to long-haul routes, including to Dubai and Toronto as the launch routes, starting September 2019. The next two destinations, Tel Aviv and Bangalore, are to be added to the flight schedule later in the 2019/2020 winter season, the airline states.
For now, BA’s schedule for the month of January 2020 shows it operating Boeing 777s to Dubai instead of the A350-1000. It remains to be seen if the airline will be forced to adjust its route schedule further, depending on the repair and delivery of its latest A350-1000.
British Airways new A350-1000s are configured in a three-class layout and are able to carry up to 331 passengers. BA has chosen this airliner to launch their new Club World cabin ‒ Club Suites. The aircraft has a range of 8,700 miles (16,100 km) and is powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engines.
Also part of IAG, Spain’s flagship carrier Iberia operates five of the smaller A350-900s with another 15 of these jets on order from Airbus. British Airways, however, has not placed any orders for the A350-900 variant.
According to the European manufacturer’s data, aside from the new A350XWBs, BA currently operates a total 160 Airbus aircraft, including single-aisle A318, A319, A320ceo/neo, and A321ceo/neo jets and 12 A380s.