RUSSIAN FLAG carrier Aeroflot’s maiden Airbus A350 has been spotted leaving the paint shop sporting the company’s new corporate livery. The aircraft with test registration F-WZGT (c/n 383) will soon become VQ-BFY, where it will be deployed initially on the London/Heathrow link (SU2578/79) from June this year.
It’s A350-900s will be fitted out to carry a total of 316 passengers, comprising a three-class layout. This will see 264 seated in economy, 24 in premium economy and 28 up front in business class. It’s first aircraft is expected to be delivered to Moscow/Sheremetyevo in February.
The Sheremetyevo-based company plans to introduce the A350-900 to further destinations, with Los Angeles and Osaka/Kansai already announced. VQ-BFY will join the airline’s existing 125 Airbus strong fleet comprising 74/33 A320/A321ceo respectively, and 18 A330-200/300ceo. With the latter ageing and inefficient compared with next generation examples, Aeroflot are earmarked to fully replace the type, and will be superseded by Airbus’ newest Rolls-Royce Trent XWB product. Ahead of the new arrivals, the outfit has already taken several older widebody jets out of service to be sold on.
The Russian carrier has recently shaken up its widebody orderbook, cancelling eight of the now shelved A350-800 variant without replacement, whilst still awaiting for the full contingent of 14 -900’s to be delivered. With other major carriers including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic taking the upgauged -1000 variant, will there potentially be a forthcoming order later this year from the Russian flag carrier at Farnborough?
Turbulent times over the last decade have seen Russia embroiled in economic difficulties and geopolitical tension, which has had an underlying affect on mooted plans of expansion. The notable example from this alone led to its whole 22 unit order for the Dreamliner being removed from the order book.