The first commercial service by the new generation Airbus A350 WXB into Heathrow is due to be operated by Finnair from Helsinki in October.
The carrier is the European launch customer for the 297-passenger long range twinjet and plans to run crew test flights within Europe prior to the aircraft entering into service on routes to Asia.
The Helsinki-London flight is planned for October 6 ahead of the airline becoming the first to operate the A350 on scheduled services to China, where Shanghai will be served daily from October 25 followed by Beijing from November 21.
Finnair’s peak-season frequencies to Bangkok from Helsinki will be served with a combination of A350 and A330 aircraft from December 4.
Daily services to Hong Kong from February 1, 2016 and to Singapore from May 5, 2016 will also be operated with a combination of A350 and A330.
Finnair A350s will be equipped with Wi-Fi and operate in a two-class configuration including 46 seats in business class.
The ‘eco-smart’ design of the A350 is claimed to deliver at least a 25% improvement in fuel efficiency and operating costs over the previous generation of aircraft in its class.
Finnair has 19 A350s on order, and expects to receive the first four by the end of this year. Another seven will be delivered in 2016 and 2017, with the remaining eight to be delivered between 2018 and 2023.
The deliveries will enable the carrier to phase out its A340s by the end of 2017, leaving the entire widebody fleet comprised A330s and A350s.
The airline’s chief executive Pekka Vauramo said: “We are thrilled to reach this important milestone as we gear up for a seamless transition to A350 operations.
“Our A350 investment programme is the largest in the company’s 92-year history, and these aircraft will form the backbone of our long-haul operations for years to come while also playing an essential role in our sustainable, long-term profitability.”
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