Fiji Airways has released pictures of its first Airbus A350-900 after its visit to the paintshop.
The A350-900, MSN299, still needs to have its engines installed, as well as undergo ground and flight tests, before its expected delivery to Fiji Airways in November 2019.
In May, Fiji Airways became the first airline in the South Pacific to order the A350 when it put pen to paper for two of the next generation widebody.
The two A350-900s were being leased from Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) Capital and would be deployed on services to the United States and Australia, as well as potentially open additional routes.
The airline has configured the A350-900 to carry 334 passengers in a two-class layout, featuring 33 B/E Aerospace Super Diamond business class seats that offer direct aisle access for every passenger and 301 Recaro CL3710 economy class seats.
Further, Fiji Airways has said previously the A350-900s would compliment its current widebody fleet of five A330-200s and one A330-300. Two A330-200s were picked up in 2018 on short term leases while the airline evaluated its future long-haul aircraft needs.
The second A350-900 was expected to be delivered in December 2019.
The A330 shares a common type rating with the A350. Pilots qualified and current on the A330 would be able to fly the A350 by taking a “differences training” course, Airbus has said previously, resulting in significant cost savings and operational flexibility.
Currently, Fiji Airways flies to three destinations in the United States – Honolulu, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Meanwhile, it serves three Australian ports – Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney – from its Nadi hub with a mixture of mixture of Boeing 737 and Airbus A330 equipment. The airline also flies between Suva and Sydney.
The Fiji flag carrier did previously also fly nonstop between Adelaide and Nadi. However, the route was dropped in July following a review that took into account a number of factors “including the aircraft currently available within our fleet”.
In recent years, Fiji Airways has been keen to attract Australians heading to the United States to consider a one-stop option via Nadi.
While Fiji Airways is the first airline in the South Pacific to order the A350 in the South Pacific, the aircraft is a regular presence at a number of Australian and New Zealand airports, with the likes of Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and Qatar Airways operating the type to this part of the world.
The A350 program, which comprised the A350-900 and A350-1000 variants, has received 913 firm orders from 51 customers at August 31 2019, according to figures from Airbus.