LONDON – Pilots at Azul Linhas Aereas have been conducting Airbus A350 familiarization flights for the last few weeks in preparation for PR-AOY’s entry into commercial service.
Here is an example of one of the flights in question, with the pilots doing continuous training flights between Campinas and Porto Alegre since October 10, according to data from RadarBox.com.
The aircraft has also been doing some stopovers in Salvador as well as doing the odd long-haul practice between Recife and Lisbon, which is around six hours and 50 minutes each way.
PR-AOY is the first Airbus A350 for Azul Linhas Aereas. However, it started out live 5.1 years ago as F-WZHF and F-WTAO during testing before delivery.
The aircraft was then registered to B-LGC with Hong Kong Airlines and was delivered on November 30, 2017.
By February 8, 2020, the aircraft was withdrawn from use and subsequently stored at Tarbes Lourdes before Airbus took ownership of the aircraft again as F-WXAN in June 2020.
From there, the aircraft was delivered to Azul in September 2022, where such familiarization flights have been taking place since.
This is what Azul’s CEO, John Rodgerson had to say on the first delivery two months ago:
“We are very happy to present this news to our Customers, Crew, and partners.”
“The Airbus A350 is one of the most modern aircraft in existence, which will bring much more comfort to our customers and more efficient in terms of fuel consumption and CO₂ emission, bringing a reduction in the cost per seat when compared to the A330CEO aircraft, which currently flies Azul’s long-haul flights”.
More A350s To Come…
What we do know is that there are at least three more A350s coming in the direction of Azul in the short term. They are as follows:
- PR-AOW – Ex Hong Kong Airlines registered as B-LGA – This airframe was supposed to go to Azul in the first place but was never taken up. B-LGA was delivered in August 2017. Stored in Tarbes in December 2019 and was sent back to Airbus in June 2020.
- PR-AOX – Ex Hong Kong Airlines registered as B-LGB – Like, with B-LGA, the airframe was originally supposed to go to Azul as well but wasn’t taken up. Stored in Tarbes in January 2020, returned to Airbus by June, and is yet to be delivered.
- PR-AOZ – Ex Hong Kong Airlines registered as B-LGD – Stored in Tarbes in September 2019 and sent to Airbus in June 2020 as well. The aircraft is still due for delivery.
We can see a common theme here as well. Azul seems to be taking ex-Hong Kong Airlines aircraft, which doesn’t come as a surprise given the carrier’s current struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing them to cut jobs and downsize operations.
In June 2021, it was announced that Hong Kong Airlines would only operate eight Airbus A330s flying in the interim, prioritizing cargo.
Azul has only ordered four A350s, as per Airbus’ Orders & Deliveries data from October 2022, but if these commercial flights go well, we could see a fleet of A330neos and A350s being used for the carrier’s long-haul strategy and maybe an expansion of orders later down the line.
But for now, all eyes will be on Azul to complete these flights and to get the jets into commercial service as quickly as possible in order to capture as many markets as they can overseas.
Azul Going Airbus Mad…
As a side note to this article, Azul does seem to be very committed to Airbus fleet renewal at the moment. Below, you can see images of a special A320neo livery to advertise Walt Disney World has conducted its first flight: