Supply Chain Constraints Forces Air India To Receive Airbus A350s With Aeroflot Cabins

May 16th, 2023
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Air India, the flag carrier airline of India, has received two Airbus A350 aircraft with cabins that were originally meant for Russia’s Aeroflot. This unusual development is a result of supply chain constraints that have forced Airbus to use cabins from already-built planes to fulfill new orders. Here’s what you need to know about this situation.

The Background

Air India ordered a total of six Airbus A350 aircraft, which were originally scheduled to be delivered in 2020 and 2021. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other supply chain issues, the deliveries were delayed. In December 2020, Airbus announced that it would reduce its production of A350s from six to five per month due to the pandemic’s impact on the aviation industry.

The Situation

As a result of these delays and production cuts, Airbus was unable to provide Air India with the custom-designed cabin interiors it had requested for its A350s. Instead, Airbus used the cabin interiors from two A350s that had been built for Aeroflot but were not delivered due to the pandemic. These planes were parked in Toulouse, France, waiting for delivery to the Russian airline.

The cabins of the two planes were reconfigured to meet Air India’s specifications, but there are still some noticeable differences between the original design and the final product. For example, the seat covers have a different color scheme, and the headrests and seat belts have Aeroflot branding.

The Implications

Air India’s situation is just one example of the supply chain constraints that have affected the aviation industry during the pandemic. With airlines reducing their fleets and delaying orders, manufacturers like Airbus have had to adapt their production schedules and prioritize existing orders.

However, the situation with Air India’s A350s highlights the challenges of using pre-built cabins to fulfill new orders. While the cabins can be reconfigured to some extent, there may be limitations to what can be changed, and the resulting product may not meet the customer’s exact specifications. This could lead to customer dissatisfaction or even cancellations of orders.

The Future

Air India’s A350s are now in service, with one operating on the Delhi-Toronto route and the other on the Delhi-Sydney route. The airline has not commented on the situation with the cabins, and it is unclear whether the remaining four A350s will also have pre-built cabins.

As the aviation industry continues to recover from the pandemic, supply chain constraints are likely to persist, and airlines and manufacturers will have to find innovative solutions to fulfill orders. However, as the situation with Air India’s A350s demonstrates, these solutions may not always be ideal for the customer.

Final Thoughts

Air India’s experience with the pre-built cabins for its A350s underscores the challenges that the aviation industry is facing in the wake of the pandemic. While manufacturers like Airbus are doing their best to adapt to the changing circumstances, there are limitations to what they can do, and the resulting products may not meet the exact specifications of the customer. As airlines and manufacturers navigate these challenges, it will be important to maintain open communication and work together to find solutions that work for everyone involved.