Union Minister of Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia has officially inaugurated the first Airbus A350 of Air India. The airline showcased the aircraft at Wings India 2024 held at Begumpet Airport from January 18 to 21. From 22 January, the aircraft will enter into scheduled commercial service on domestic routes. In mid-2024, it is expected to be deployed on international routes.
Game Changer for Air India
According to the Managing Director of Air India, Campbell Wilson, the Airbus A350 is a game changer for the airline. This aircraft will not just offer a better experience but also open up new opportunities for the airline. In mid-2024, the airline will commence refurbishment of its widebody fleet. All the Boeing 777 and Boeing 787 will get a new cabin. The Boeing 777-300ER fleet will be configured with 4 cabins.
Talking about the Airbus A350, it is powered by Rolls Royce XWB engines. It has enough range for Air India to operate non-stop flights to North America. This one is the first of 20 Airbus A350-900 to be delivered to the airline. As these A350s were previously destined for Aeroflot, they possess the cabin layout of Aeroflot.
New Product for Air India
Due to difficulty in provisioning newer seats, Air India decided to go ahead with the Aeroflot cabin. However, the cabin has undergone a soft upgrade. The Aeroflot logo has been replaced with the Air India Vista logo. The seat fabric color has been changed and matched to Air India colors.
The Airbus A350 has 316 seats in three different cabins – Business, Premium Economy & Economy. The business class has 28 private suites in a 1-2-1 layout. For enhanced privacy, there are doors and direct aisle access.
The suite chairs easily turn into full-sized beds with just a button, offering passengers their own private space in the sky. Each suite comes with a personal wardrobe and enough storage for electronic devices, amenities, and shoes. There’s also a handy mirror for travelers. The 21-inch HD touchscreen and video handset provide great entertainment, and universal air conditioning and USB-A power outlets make sure your devices stay charged.
The premium economy section comprises 24 seats arranged in a 2-4-2 configuration, providing a comfortable 38-inch seat pitch. Each seat features a 4-way adjustable headrest, leg rest with a foot paddle for personalized comfort, a 13.3-inch HD touchscreen, and universal air conditioning and USB-A power outlets.
Additionally, the economy class consists of 264 seats in a 3-4-3 configuration, offering 31 inches of seat pitch and a 12-inch HD touchscreen for passengers.
New Amenity Kits
In mid-2024, Air India will start deploying its Airbus A350 in international sectors. With the international flight’s commencement, the airline will roll out new amenity kits, Chinaware, Cutlery, and Glassware onboard the Airbus A350.
Ferragamo, the famous Italian luxury fashion house, has created exclusive amenity kits for Air India’s First and Business class passengers. These kits come in a unique presentation bag with Indian printing styles, containing Ferragamo body lotion, hand cream, lip balm, cozy socks, an eye mask, and a special Air India keepsake. The First-class kit also includes an Eau de Parfum, making Air India the first airline to feature amenity kits in Ferragamo’s new brand identity.
For Premium Economy travelers, Air India has refreshed its award-winning amenity kit, now incorporating the airline’s red color and featuring skincare essentials by Verso. Economy class amenity kits, available on ultra-long-haul flights, include an eye mask, socks, and hand lotion, made from premium recyclable and reusable Kraft paper.
First and Business-class passengers will enjoy Air India’s TUMI loungewear, made from recycled materials blended with cotton for comfort. They will also receive plush velour slippers for maximum comfort during the flight.
In terms of bedding, First and business-class guests will be treated to specially designed linen inspired by Air India’s new global brand identity. This includes sustainable and lightweight duvets and mattress toppers with a memory foam layer for an enhanced sleep experience.
The blankets, made of a premium wool blend, showcase a motif inspired by the traditional Sozni embroidery of Jammu & Kashmir. Air India is unique in offering wool-blended blankets in First and Business class, while Premium Economy and Economy guests will have a twill weave cabin blanket reflecting the new brand elements for added comfort and warmth.
Chinaware, Cutlery & Glassware
This fancy dinnerware set combines light and strong materials with cool Mandala patterns and Indian designs, making your dining experience feel rich and special. The tiffin box-shaped salt-pepper set in gold gives it a cool Indian touch that guests will love. First-class guests get special copper-gold thalis for Indian meals. In Premium Economy, meals come in light melamine plates, bowls, and glasses with cool Mandala patterns.
For Business class travelers, there’s fancy glassware from Slovakia popular for being clear and high-quality. The dining experience is made even better with cool stainless-steel cutlery that’s light and easy to use.
Upgraded In-Flight Entertainment System
Air India has introduced an upgraded inflight entertainment (IFE) system on its long-haul flights, offering over 2,200 hours of content across movies, TV, and audio. The enhanced IFE experience will be available on the A350, B777-200LR, and future widebody aircraft. The airline’s legacy widebody fleet will undergo a complete retrofit starting in the second half of 2024 with a $400 million program, featuring the new IFE system and expanded content.
Campbell Wilson, CEO of Air India, emphasized the transformation, stating, “As Air India enters a new era with our A350 aircraft, so does our guests’ entertainment experience.”
The content library includes Bollywood and Hollywood movies, global music, documentaries, and Air India Radio. The selection spans 14 languages globally. The TV section has over 900 episodes, and Air India Radio introduces exclusive podcasts and diverse music. The Kids Zone provides 55+ hours of curated content, and the A350 features full-HD monitors with interactive maps. This initiative aligns with Air India’s broader transformation, including a new brand identity, website, app, and uniforms. The airline received its first A350 in December, with more deliveries scheduled until March 2024.