More airlines have joined the Airbus A350 operator base in recent weeks, taking the number of airlines flying the European twin-jet to 17. Delta Air Lines has put its first A350-941s, N501DN (msn 115), N502DN (msn 135) and N503DN (msn 149) into operation. Its A350s are based at the airline’s Detroit hub and were initially placed on the services from there to Tokyo-Narita from October 30 and Seoul-Incheon from November 18. Meanwhile, Air Mauritius has received the first of six A350-941s (two of which will be purchased directly from Airbus, the other four leased from AerCap). The airline’s first service with the leased aircraft 3B-NBP (msn 145) was from Mauritius to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Air Mauritius is due to receive a second A350-941 by the end of the year and the two jets will initially be used by the airline on its routes to Paris CDG and Johannesburg.
Delta will put its A350-941s into service on its Detroit–Beijing rotation in January 2018 before starting transatlantic services with the type next March with a service to Amsterdam. The airline describes the A350 as its new “flagship international aircraft” and Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian has said the aircraft is, “a significant step forward for us into the international competitiveness of our product and service”. Although its 306-seat A350-941s have 70 fewer seats than the Boeing 747-400s they are replacing, they have Delta’s newest business-class suites (which Delta is the first US airline to introduce) and a premium economy cabin. Delta has ordered 25 A350-941s, which will make it the second-largest A350 operator after United Airlines, which has ordered 45 A350-941s.
By the start of November, Airbus had delivered 122 A350-941s. Air China is expected to become another new operator by the end of the year.