Qatar Airways flight QR 67 has marked the commercial debut of the Airbus A350.
The aircraft – registered A7-ALA – took off from Doha Airport at 0810 local time on Thursday, landing at Frankfurt a little under six hours later at 1206.
Qatar is the launch customer of the A350 and has 80 of the type on order. This oneworld alliance member took delivery of the A350-900 on December 22 2014 and unveiled it to the world in front of about 500 invited guests and media at its Doha hub on January 8.
Since then, the aircraft has been put through it paces with a number of training flights. Qatar also flew A7-ALA to London for noise testing in the week leading up to the inaugural flight.
Qatar has fitted 36 fully flat business class seats, all with direct aisle access, as well as 247 economy seats in a 3-3-3 configuration in its A350-900.
The aircraft was also fitted with on-board wifi, according to the airline’s website.
Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker said the arrival of the A350 into the fleet was a “moment of absolute national pride for Qatar Airways and the State of Qatar”.
“Through the dedication and hard work of the young men and women who work for our national airline, the innovation and development of our five-star customer offering each and every day, and the investment in the latest aeronautical design and technology, I believe that the State of Qatar has an airline to be truly proud of and one that is globally renowned and regarded,” Al Baker said in a statement on January 8.
Having taken delivery of the first A350 in late 2014, Qatar was expected to pick up the next four frames to come off the Airbus production line.
While the first and second A350 would be used on Qatar’s double-daily offering on the Doha-Frankfurt route, Al Baker told reporters recently the aircraft would be deployed to Singapore and New York, with some other European and Indian cities also expected to see the world’s newest aircraft in Qatar colours at some point in the future.
Finnair, which has 19 A350s on firm order, was scheduled to receive its first A350 in the second half of 2015. Skyteam carrier Vietnam Airlines was also due to receive the first its 10 A350-900s on order before the end of the year.
At December 31 2014, Airbus had booked 780 firm orders for the A350 – 18 for the smaller A350-800, 595 for the A350-900 and 169 for the stretched A350-1000 – from 40 customers.