The first A350 for Starlux Airlines has taken off on its first test flight. The airplane was put through its paces from the Airbus site in Toulouse yesterday, marking the first step on the road to delivery to the carrier.
The airline recently secured a syndicated loan of $123.7 million, gaining support from 10 local banks to provide funding for its purchase of the widebody jets. The funding was well needed, given that the airline posted a net loss of $85 million in the first half of 2022, and accumulated losses of over $300 million since its launch.
The first flight
Starlux’s first A350 took off from the Airbus facility in Toulouse at just before 14:30 yesterday, flying under Airbus test registration F-WZGN. It headed northwest, out over the sea in the Bay of Biscay, for three hours and 30 minutes of putting it through its paces.
The A350 flew for around three and a half hours on its first trip. Photo: Eurospot
During the test flight, the aircraft ascended to 40,000 feet, flying at a high altitude for most of the trip. At points, it flew as high as 43,000 feet, making a large oval in the sky before heading back to Toulouse. It landed just before 18:00 yesterday evening.
The test flight saw mainly high altitude flying over the Bay of Biscay. Photo: FlightRadar24.com
According to AIB Family Flights, the aircraft was first spotted in May 2021 wearing nothing but primer. It then rolled out in full livery but without engines in July that year. Functional testing of the jet did not begin until this summer, with engine runs and taxi checks last week and a taxi check and rejected takeoff on Monday.
The aircraft will likely undertake several more test flights before flying the final customer acceptance flight. It is expected to arrive with Starlux in October.
What Starlux has planned for the A350
When the A350 arrives in the Starlux fleet, it will be its first large widebody. The airline began operations with its A321neos, adding A330 widebodies for the first time in February this year. It currently has 10 A321neos and three A330neos in its fleet, with one more narrowbody and four more A330neos left to be delivered.
Originally, the airline had ordered 10 A350-900 and eight A350-1000s, but since changed its order to only the smaller A350-900. It has noted its plans to launch flights to the USA in 2023, specifically starting with Taipei to Los Angeles, which will be a great fit for the long range A350.
Both the A321neo and the A330neo have competent business class, but Starlux has promised something even better on the A350. Photo: Starlux
The airline has previously said that it will add a first class onboard its A350s, something it does not have on its other airplanes. Its A330neos have a 1-2-1 business class product and a 2-4-2 economy. No detail has yet been given on the first class product, although it has said that the aircraft will have a total of 306 seats, indicating either a very small first class cabin, or very tight legroom down the back.
We’ll have to wait and see what’s in store from this interesting Taiwanese carrier.
Source: AIB Family Flights