Cathay Pacific’s first A350 from HKG to YVR is ready for a tug to pull it to the gate
Almost 35 years ago, Cathay Pacific Airways (CX) began its international expansion to North America, flying a Boeing 747-200 from Hong Kong (HKG) to Vancouver, BC (YVR). It was the first airline to fly nonstop between the two key Pacific Rim cities, and on Tuesday morning, Cathay Pacific introduced a new aircraft type on the route.
The airline’s Airbus A350-900XWB, B-LRI, touched down in the pouring rain just after sunrise, almost an hour ahead of its 8:00 AM scheduled arrival time. I was with the media group, set up on the south ramp for the A350’s expected arrival on YVR’s runway 08R. But just a few minutes before landing, the plane’s approach was changed to the north runway, 08L.
The first A350 – Photo: Jason Rabinowiz
I would say that Jason Rabinowitz and I are pretty good friends. He also writes for AirlineReporter from time to time. Often he reaches out and asks if it is okay to share a story. I have never turned him down. Other times I spend lots and lots of time trying to convince him to share his story. He often agrees. Neither of these is the case for when he went to watch the first flight of the Airbus A350-1000 in Toulouse, France.
I couldn’t go, so I wanted to live through his story. He had a great time, shared it via his social media, took some great photos, but I couldn’t convince him to write up the story. Fine. Guess what? I am going to write up a story for him. Kinda.
Qatar Airways’ first A350 (MSN006) at the Airbus Delivery Center – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
Qatar Airways has been growing rapidly, both in terms of their fleet and their route network. I recently got to experience an example of both when I joined Qatar for their inaugural flight to Boston Logan Airport (BOS), utilizing the new Airbus A350-900 XWB. It was a pretty special trip.
After a rather disappointing first experience on Qatar when flying in from Los Angeles, I was really hoping to see Qatar’s best when departing from their home hub of Doha. Sometimes, operating from outstations with once-daily service can be very challenging.
This would be my first time flying the Airbus A350 as well – just a few days before our Editor-in-Chief David Parker Brown. I wanted to make sure to take the chance to remind him of that (thanks Blaine ^David).
Certificate given to passengers to mark the inauguration of service to Boston – Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter
Overall, my flight was great. The service was up to snuff and the food tasty. But the star of the show was the A350. Wow, what a ride. Read on!
My TAM Airlines Airbus A350 in Sao Paulo
Recently, I had the opportunity to fly on my first Airbus A350 and I was excited. It was on TAM Airlines from Miami (MIA) to Sao Paulo (GRU), which is an eight-hour flight — enough time for me to put it to the test. It was also special, because this was the first international commercial flight for the TAM A350 (when it flew to MIA).
Over two and a half days, I would fly about 14,000 miles and stay in Brazil for one night to take this flight. When I did something very similar (minus the sweet A350) back in November 2014, I thought I would never do something like it again. But when invited, there wasn’t a moment of hesitation. The ability to fly on my first A350 — on TAM? Yes please!
My flights that I took over a 2.5 day period – Image: GCMap.com
Going into it, my big question was, “is the A350 better than the Boeing 787 and/or the 777?” In the end, the answer to that question was not so easy.