Welcoming Japan Airlines' first Airbus A350
Quite a feat for Airbus to gain a toehold at one of the few airlines that, at least until now, had seemed off bounds for its airliners.
Japan Airlines has just taken delivery of the very first of 31 Airbus A350 aircraft it has on order.
The Japanese airline is getting 18 A350-900s (which will be deployed mainly on domestic routes, replacing B777-200s) and 13 A350-1000s, destined mainly to international service.
JALRed is the first of the A350s that will enter service with Japan Airlines.
Just as its Japanese rival ANA did a couple of months ago when it took delivery of its “Honu” A380, JALRed is also the first of a family of 3 specially-liveried aircraft, each with a distinctive colour: red, silver and green.
In order to enjoy the new cabin features (including a new line of seats on all three classes) of JAL’s A350 you will have to wait until September 1st, when it will enter service on the Tokyo Haneda to Fukuoka route.
Although we were not able to see the inside of the plane at the delivery ceremony in Toulouse, we we were able to get a glimpse of what is on store for JAL’s A350 passengers. The cabin interior will be presented publicly at an event in Tokyo on 20th June.
The delivery ceremony, that included a beautiful music and dance show, counted with a high ranking representation from JAL (Chairman Yoshiharu Ueki), Airbus (Christian Scherer, CCO) and Rolls-Royce (supplier of the Trent XWB engines).
Their speeches highlighted the relevance of Airbus delivering one of its aircraft to JAL for the very first time (although, JAL operated A300-600s for a brief period of time after it merged with Japan Air System in the early 2000s and absorbed JAS’ fleet).
And after the speeches and the show, time to get down to the tarmac for a close up view of JALRed!
The ferry flight from Toulouse to Tokyo was performed using a mix of synthetic and biofuels. A way to highlight both, Airbus and JAL, commitment to keep working on more environmentally-friendly technologies.
A particularity of Japan Airlines A350-900s is that they are lighter than most aircraft of the same type (217 tons instead of the typical 270-280 tons). Engines have also been engineered to have less thrust. All of this helps reduce attrition when operating frequent flight cycles on short haul routes.
Below you can see the JALRed livery, that has been added to the otherwise traditional, yet elegant, JAL colour scheme.
A bit of pomp and circumstance, including a decent amount of flag-waving, as the aircraft taxied towards the runway, to mark the A350’s send-off.
And there it is!
Right after take-off, JALRed turned to make a low pass over the Delivery Center (more flag waving ensued!) before heading to its new home in Tokyo.
See you soon!