“She is beautiful”
That were the only words that came out from my mouth the moment I had the first glimpse of Malaysia Airlines latest aircraft, the Airbus A350 XWB taxiing into Hangar 6 in KL International Airport this morning.
It could be her signature graceful sharklets of the Airbus A350 XWB or the “racoon mask” of the black cockpit windows, there is something about this particular plane that makes it such a sexy aircraft.
My love towards the Airbus A350 XWB is not new. Back in November 2014, I remember standing at KLIA’s runway fence when Airbus brought their Airbus A350 into KLIA for the first time for a demonstration tour. At that time, I knew that the A350 would look good in Malaysia Airlines livery. Click here to read about the A350 tour to KLIA.
And in February 2016, I was lucky enough to be invited by Airbus to Singapore Airshow with the Airbus A350 as the star of the show! Click here to read about that experience.
Besides an A350 fan, I am also a loyal customer of Malaysia Airlines having clocked more than 50 sectors last year and slightly lower than that this year. So it was natural for me to be super excited to be among the first few given the opportunity to check out Malaysia Airlines Airbus A350 XWB arriving today in KLIA. Thank you to those who made it possible for me to be invited 🙂
Arriving at Hangar 6, the positive ambiance of welcoming a brand new plane can be felt. Enthusiastic executives of Malaysia Airlines smartly dressed, animated members of airline’s partners, media representatives with their fancy cameras and lenses and this little aviation blogger all there in Hangar 6 with one objective – to give a warm Malaysian Hospitality Selamat Datang to this brand new plane.
By 11 am, flightradar24 showed that 9M-MAB, Malaysia Airlines first A350 XWB has entered Malaysian airspace approaching KLIA.
The formality of the event kicked-off with the arrival of Honourable Minister of Finance II, MAB’s Group CEO, members of the Board of Directors and Airbus’ representative.
As scheduled at 11:45am, the highlight of the event – the arrival of the aircraft. Started off with a fly past to showcase the brand new bird. A beautiful sight indeed.
The aircraft then made a quick loop and returned to land for the first time at its home base- KL International Airport.
Taxiing in to Hangar 6.
An interesting thing happened while we were waiting for the aircraft. With me was a group of Malaysia Airlines employees and while they were obviously excited with the arrival of the plane, at one point the emotions were a bit high for a couple of them.
Tears of joy were actually flowing from their eyes. It was sort of a reminder to me on how sometimes receiving a new aircraft can be very meaningful. It could be a sign of recovery, a milestone of achievement, a glimpse of hope of an airline regaining its glory. Keep it up guys!
Customary water canon salute by Malaysia Airports AFRS team.
Ladies and gentlemen, the new star of Malaysia Airlines, the Airbus A350 XWB.
A bit about this new Airbus A350 plane. Malaysia Airlines Airbus A350 features a total of 286 seats in 3 cabin configuration – first, business and economy (premium and normal economy). The six new aircraft will eventually replace the existing six Airbus A380.
It is a smaller plane but one of the obvious reasons of the change is the cost effectiveness of the A350 is much better per seat vs. the super Jumbo of A380. At the end of the day, this decision is in-line with the strategic direction of Malaysia Airlines towards recovery and better financial sustainability.
The delivery team being welcomed. Must be a cool experience flying an almost empty, brand new plane all the way from Toulouse.
Features of the new aircraft being showcased through a video presentation.
I had the opportunity to also preview the interior of 9M-MAB. However it was a quick tour of the cabin and with quite a number of other people at the same time, taking some good photos was quite a challenge.
Starting with the first Class, of course.
I was informed that Malaysia Airlines is the first airline to offer a first class cabin on the Airbus A350. 4 seats that can make your 13-hour journey to London an experience by itself!
Although not quite a suite, these 4 first class seats offer high partition walls and a sliding door which gives a sense of premium and privacy. Ample storage areas and space for work, dine or just enjoy the luxury of first class travel.
The 35 business class seats are quite a familiar sight. At one glance, it reminded me of the A330 Business Class seats and layout.
Good news for solo travellers – the “throne” seats are still there!
Judging from the load of premium classes for the London route, the Airbus A350 is set to continue provide a premium experience for the passengers upfront and providing a good return to the airline.
There is some good news for the 247 passengers at the back as well. The economy class also offers some enhancement to existing flying experience of the A380. Firstly the A350 is equipped with higher ceilings, large windows and LED lighting that is designed to reduce jetlag.
The in-flight screens are bigger too!
Seats in economy have a standard 31 inches leg-room and configured based on the 3-3-3 layout. There is however some “special seats” like the one in Row 26.
And for those willing to pay more to enjoy 36 inch of leg-room, the A350 also offers 27 seats with extra legroom which could be branded as Premium Economy.
Some extra shots of the cabin.
A cabin crew that I met shared how the galley is significantly more advanced in comparison with the A380.
And the lavatory is more modern. I did not try it though. 😛
I will do a full review of this new aircraft when I fly to Bangkok next week. Although not quite a long haul flight, at least it would give a bit more time and space for me to try out what this new aircraft has to offer.
Till then, congratulations Malaysia Airlines on receiving the first Airbus A350 XWB, blue skies ahead!