Airbus announced that the maiden flight of its A350 XWB will take place in Toulouse, France, on Friday, three days before the start of the Paris Air Show. The European aircraft manufacturer has secured 613 firm orders for the A350 XWB, which is scheduled to enter service in 2014.
The maiden flight of the new Airbus A350 is expected by the end of next week. Troubles with suppliers has delayed the introduction of the two-engine intercontinental plane by more than a year. A possible air traffic control strike in France may delay the flight. The first flight will begin a yearlong series of flights using five test planes.
Airbus powered up the Rolls-Royce XWB engines on its A350 for the first time in preparation for the aircraft's debut flight. Flight trials for the A350 should be completed within 12 months. Airbus has booked firm orders for 616 A350 aircraft.
Standard & Poor's says France is in for further credit downgrading if it fails to produce promised budget cuts. However, France has recently been able to borrow at record low rates despite losing its AAA rating more than a year ago.
Air France has installed premium-economy seating on 98 of its long-haul planes and expects two more A380s this year and is satisfied with the addition. "We're very happy with the additional revenue it has generated for Air France -- this is a crucial point for the company," said product manager Eugénie Audebert. "We've had especially good results on the North American market. We compete here with [premium economy products on] Virgin Atlantic and British Airways, so this is a very competitive market."