The widely anticipated public reveal of Air India’s new Airbus A350-900 aircraft has taken place at Wings India 2024, the airshow running in Bangalore on January 18-21, 2024.
The Indian flag carrier has not only showcased the cabin interiors of its new fleet flagship, but also offered also some additional details of its renovated inflight experience.
New amenity kits, exclusively designed for Air India by Italian fashion brand Ferragamo, have also been unveiled at the event, as were bed linens and chinaware for use by premium cabin passengers.
Air India has also presented a new Inflight Entertainment (IFE) offering. Based on Panasonic eX3 hardware, it comes with a library with 2,200 hours of content, of which half are movies, including what Air India has dubbed the largest library of Indian content of any airline.
This new IFE platform will be available on long-haul flights from the second half of 2024. In addition to the new A350s that will be arriving from Toulouse, it will also be progressively fitted into Air India’s legacy long-haul fleet, as the airline moves forward with its US$400 million retrofit program.
Air India’s A350-900 boasts 316 seats across a three-class cabin: 28 business class suites in a 1-2-1 configuration, each offering direct aisle access, sliding privacy doors, full-flat beds and a personal wardrobe and stowage space, plus 24 premium economy seats in a 2-4-2 configuration, and 264 seats arranged in a 3-4-3 layout.
Notably, the cabin layout and design for Air India’s first six A350-900s, as well as the cabin fittings, supplied by Collins Aerospace, were originally intended for Aeroflot. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent sanctions, these completed but yet-undelivered aircraft were reassigned to Air India, which kept the cabin interiors intact. Subsequent aircraft received after this first batch may be fitted with an altogether different cabin design.
The aircraft that was displayed at Wings India is the first of 20 A350-900s on order (Air India will also acquire another 20 of the larger A350-1000 version of the aircraft). Another four of the type are expected to join the fleet before March 2024. The new A350s will be operating domestic flights at first, to enable crew familiarization, before being deployed on long-haul international routes.