Air China readies for A350 and signs deal with Sabre
The first A350-900 for Air China has performed its maiden flight. Read More » The aircraft – MSN167 – “will now enter the final phase of production, further ground checks and test flights before being prepared for delivery,” Airbus has said. The airline has 10 A350-900s on order.
It is expected that Air China will take delivery of its first XWB in July, ahead of other Mainland customers for the type.
Hainan Airlines and Sichuan Airlines are also bound to receive A350s in the coming weeks, but Orient Aviation understands that Air China will be the first to get the aircraft because it is the PRC’s flag carrier and that is just the way things are done in China. Also, Air China was the first Chinese airline to order the A350.
China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines have ordered 20 A350-900s, respectively. Sichuan Airlines is bound to receive four A350s on lease from AerCap and ALC. It is unclear how many XWBs the HNA Group airlines will receive.
It is expected that Air China will place follow-up orders for the A350, given its substantial A330 fleet. Currently, Star Alliance member Air China operates an Airbus fleet of 200 aircraft, including 141 A320 Family aircraft and 59 A330 Family aircraft.
Separately, Air China this week signed a deal with airline technology provider Sabre. Under the agreement, the carrier will extend the breadth of its Sabre AirCentre Operations portfolio to improve disruption management at the airline, including automating Air China’s recovery efforts, reducing cost and increasing aircraft utilization.
“Our mutually beneficial, longstanding relationship has enabled us to gain a comprehensive understanding of Air China’s business and deliver technology solutions that bring significant value to the airline,” said Dasha Kuksenko, vice president and regional general manager for Sabre Airline Solutions, Asia Pacific. “As a leading technology partner in China, Sabre is proud to manage the heart of the operations of a major Chinese carrier.”