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Sydney Airport gets its first Airbus A350 service

written by australianaviation.com.au | December 4, 2017

China Airlines Airbus A350-900 B-18909 at Sydney Airport. (Sydney Airport/Kurt Ams)
China Airlines Airbus A350-900 B-18909 at Sydney Airport. (Sydney Airport/Kurt Ams)

China Airlines has become the first Airbus A350-900 operator at Sydney Airport after upgauging its nonstop service from Taipei on Sunday.

Flight CI55, operated by B-18909, touched down at about 2015 on Friday December 1, after its nine hour and 30 minute journey from Taipei.

The aircraft was on the ground for about 100 minutes before operating the reciprocal CI52 back to Taipei.

China Airlines’ A350-900s are configured with 306 seats comprising 32 in business with direct aisle access for every passenger, 31 in premium economy in a 2-3-2 layout and 243 in economy at nine-abreast.

By contrast, the A330-300 that previously served Sydney had either 307 or 313 seats in a two-class format, with business class an angled-lie flat seat in a 2-2-2 layout that does not offer direct aisle access for every passenger.


China Airlines Oceania vice president Kelvin Chen said the upgraded product to Sydney coincided with the launch of nonstop flights between Taipei and London Gatwick, also with the A350-900.

“In its 25th year of operating to Sydney, China Airlines is very pleased to upgrade its Airbus A330-300 services to brand new A350-900 aircraft featuring the latest inflight product,” Chen said in a statement.

“Not only are we upgrading the passenger experience with these next-generation aircraft, but lifting frequency to offer twice daily departures to Taipei from December 17.

“This allows China Airlines to offer improved connectivity for the significant traffic flows between Sydney, Europe and Asia.”

Sydney Airport chief executive Kerrie Mather said China Airlines’ move to double daily services represented an extra 100,000 seats a year on the route.

China Airlines said recently it was also planning to boost its Taipei-Brisbane-Auckland service from five times a week to daily with the A350-900, replacing A330-300 equipment on the route.

The airline has taken delivery of 10 A350-900s with a further four on order.

And as more A350-900s get delivered, the A330-300s used on Melbourne-Taipei were also expected to be replaced with the next generation Airbus widebody.

“In the next year we have another four A350s that will be coming, so gradually we will be changing A330 services for this route to the A350,” China Airlines general manager, strategic planning department, corporate development office James Chung said recently.

Qantas codeshares on China Airlines’ Australia-Taiwan services. Australia and Taiwan have an open skies air services agreement.

No airline in Oceania has ordered the A350, although the widebody twin is an increasingly common sight at local airports thanks to services operated by Cathay Pacific (Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth), Singapore Airlines (Brisbane and Melbourne), Thai Airways (Melbourne) and Qatar Airways (Adelaide).

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Comments (14)

  • GAGA


    “angled-lie flat seat”? How does that work? It’s either flat or it’s angled. Can’t be both.

  • OC


    The proliferation of A350s to Australia from convenient Asian stopover destinations should be giving Qantas pause on expanding 787 services in their God awful 9 abreast economy configuration.

    What Joyce doesnt seem to realise is that not all hjgh value customers buy premium seats all the time. I travel for business internationally on a business fare. Domestically I buy semi and fully flexible economy fares. Internationally for leisure I usually fly economy if we have the kids or PE with the wife alone.

    I refuse to fly the 787 in economy (or a 10 abreast 777) as the seat width is frankly ludicrous. Therefore Qantas’ offer in economy internationally will put at risk all my flying with QAN.

  • Stu Bee


    @GAGA, the seat is flat but angled so that you’ll roll off into the aisle 😉

  • Kim


    Hey – did Adelaide finally beat Sydney with an A350 service provided by Qatar over a year ago……..at last a win for Croweaters!

  • CI’s ride on the 350 in B/C is indeed a very nice ride, PE was looking good as was the pitch in EY at 34”.

  • James



    Re read the article. You’ll find it says the China Airlines A350 also have 9 abreast in economy.

    Can’t see QF re configuring their seating arrangements. It’s been well documented here that the seating in Y on the 787 will be tight over the direct haul to LHR. Realistically the other routes to North America it would be interesting to see how it fares (and what complaining people do in regards to it). Would hope it’s not as bad.

    But of course, accepting the cramped conditions in Y on the 787 to LHR is really your choice for the convenience of the service.

    If it doesn’t work because people just don’t use it, QF will re deploy the machines to other destinations and everyone will be happy.

    As always, you get what you pay for.

  • David Fix


    I love the A350, I think it is a great airplane.

  • Jarden


    To AA,
    Cathay Pacific also send their A350 to Christchurch now.

  • Harrison


    Cathay Pacific Is Going To Be The Next A350 Operator In Sydeny

  • Keepin it Real


    Once again, airlines with VISION taking over our skies. Says alot about the type of management running old a/c with Rex, Qantas link, Tigerair and Virgin.

  • Thatcher


    #James. The A350 have a wider fuselage than the B787, therefore wider seats.
    I too avoid 9-abreast 787 and 10-abreast 777, but choose A350 when possible – twice now. A350 is a very nice aircraft.

  • James


    @ Thatcher

    Yeah it is wider, by 10 or so centimetres. Spread over 9 seats and 2 aisles. If you can feel that difference you’re doing well. Fair enough though it does look like a mean machine. And if you feel it’s more comfortable than others well that’s good.

    My point is QF will put as many seats in the 787 as they can to make money. They won’t pull out 1 kind of seats. It’s not going to get better. If you’re not happy with the set up, don’t get on the direct LHR.

  • James


    @ Keepin it Real

    You’ve got no idea how much it costs to run an airline. Or probably how to start.

    When “management” of those companies you mention feel the business has the capital to make large purchases of new aircraft (and as a by product, new fleet type) then it will happen.

  • Thatcher


    @James. 12.5cm wider than the 787 – that’s 5 inches, or more than half an inch per seat. Hell yeah, in economy I can feel the difference. Not saying it’s old-school economy roomy, but it is noticeably less squeezy than the nine-abreast 787 or 10-abreast 777.

    And no, I have no intention of ever flying Qantas economy 787 PER-LHR or any other ULH route. I’ll be taking a little longer to get there, in more comfort.

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