Asiana Airlines has taken delivery of its first Airbus A350-941, HL8078 (c/n 094). The aircraft was handed over to the South Korean carrier on April 24 at the manufacturer’s Toulouse facility and has been acquired through a sale and leaseback deal with Dublin-based lessor SMBC Aviation Capital.
Soo-Cheon Kim, President and CEO of Asiana Airlines, said: “Today’s delivery begins a new chapter in our history bringing significant enhancements to our fleet. This A350-900 aircraft will provide us with operational advantages across our long-haul network enabling us to expand our global footprint. This is an aircraft that will offer our passengers the latest and newest cabin developments to make their journey an exceptional passenger experience.”
Asiana has configured the jet in a three-class layout with 311 seats, comprising of 28 in Business, 36 in Economy Plus and 247 in Economy. The Star Alliance member, which is the 12th operator of the A350 XWB, has 30 examples on order, including the larger -1000 variant. It will deploy the aircraft on regional routes before flying it from Seoul to London and San Francisco.
The aircraft is the first of six A350-900s Asiana has funded via its sale and leaseback deal with SMBC Aviation Capital, which also includes the financing of pre-delivery payments due to Airbus. It is also the first A350 XWB to be added to SMBC Aviation Capital’s portfolio, with three more due to be delivered in 2017 and two in 2018.
Peter Barrett, CEO of SMBC Aviation Capital, said: “This milestone transaction cements our long-standing relationship with Asiana, one of Asia’s leading airlines, while also expanding our footprint in the Asia Pacific region, one of our largest markets worldwide. We are committed to growing and developing our customer relationships and financing these types of large scale transactions where there is an appetite with our customers. We look forward to building on this partnership and continuing to work with Asiana and Airbus into the future.”