Aeroflot is marking one year of flying the Airbus A350-900. On February 28, 2020, the Moscow-based airline took delivery of its first A350 in Toulouse. It was the first of 22 of the planes Aeroflot had ordered. However, to date, Aeroflot has received just one of them.
There’s just a single A350-900 in the Aeroflot fleet
These days, the single flagship A350-900 aircraft keeps busy flying Aeroflot’s long-haul routes. Over the weekend, the plane, VQ-BFY, operated a return service between Moscow and Miami. Scroll through the aircraft’s flight log, and you’ll see the plane is a regular at London Heathrow and, to a lesser extent, Tokyo Narita. That’s exactly what Aeroflot had in mind when picking up the plane.
“Aeroflot will operate its A350-900 from Moscow to a number of destinations including London, Dubai, New York, Miami, Osaka, and Beijing,” a media release said 12 months ago.
While Aeroflot is posting news of its A350’s first birthday online, it’s worth noting the Russian airline has only picked up the one A350 so far. The order dates back to 2007. Back then, the A350 promised to open up new routes for Aeroflot and beef up its long-haul network.
Ровно год назад самолетный парк Аэрофлота пополнил новейший Airbus A350. Праздничная церемония передачи лайнера проходила в Тулузе. В ролике мы собрали самые яркие кадры. Исключительный сервис и комфортный полет – лучшее начало отдыха! https://t.co/PWgU9uoaJZ #Аэрофлот #A350 pic.twitter.com/YbipQpktdB
— Аэрофлот (@aeroflot) February 28, 2021
In 2020, Aeroflot deferred delivery of A350s due that year
Last March, Henry Bewicke reported on the A350’s arrival at Aeroflot in Simple Flying. The original 2007 order was for 22 A350s. That order still stands at Airbus. All up, Aeroflot has 69 planes due from Toulouse. But as Henry Bewicke pointed out, there is some confusion over exactly what’s coming to Aeroflot and what isn’t. Eight of those 22 A350s were to be A350-800s. The A350-800 program has since been scrapped. There is a widespread belief Aeroflot will now take those eight planes from the A350-1000 assembly line.
Before the 2020 travel downturn impacted, Aeroflot was expecting to take 11 A350-900s in 2020. That didn’t happen. In August, Simple Flying reported that Aeroflot was delaying delivery of those 10 planes due to “the global health crisis.”
“We are delaying receiving the rest, probably by a year or two. Today we have nowhere to fly them,” Aeroflot CEO Vitaly Saveliev told Russian state news agency TASS.
The travel downturn saw international flights in and out of Russia collapse. Over the later half of 2020, international airline traffic to and from Russia was running around 20% of 2019 levels. While domestic airline traffic in Russia has recovered well, international flights remain in the doldrums. That’s potentially not good news for a long-haul-orientated aircraft such as the A350.
Bright future for A350 once demand recovers
Airbus has received orders for 915 A350s since the order book first opened. Despite the present downturn in international travel, particularly long-haul international travel, there’s a view the A350 program will do okay when demand does return.
Airlines will be looking for fuel-efficient, environmentally friendly planes. Passengers will be looking for comfortable, modern, long-range aircraft that can skip the transit airports and thereby minimize health risks. The A350 ticks all the boxes. That’s good news for Airbus. It also suggests their customers who, like Aeroflot, postponed delivery of A350s, will eventually step up to take delivery of their planes.
In the interim, Aeroflot has not given a firm timeline when it intends to re-commence taking delivery of their A350-900s.
What do you think? Will Aeroflot stick with the A350 order? Post a comment and let us know.