Qatar Airways has taken delivery of its first Airbus A350-1000.
The official handover ceremony took place on Tuesday (European time) at Airbus’s headquarters in Toulouse, France.
Airbus posted the official delivery ceremony on its YouTube channel:
The aircraft, A7-ANA, is the first of 37 A350-1000s Qatar Airways has on order. It is powered by Rolls-Royce engines.
The first A350-1000 was due to be delivered in December 2017. However, issues with cabin finishings pushed back the event until February 20.
Qatar’s A350-1000 is configured with 327 seats comprising 46 in business and 281 in economy.
The business class QSuites features an innovative new seat design which is already flying on a number of Qatar’s Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. Passengers have the option to have a set of four seats face each other so those travelling in a group can conduct meetings, socialise or share a meal together, while still providing the now-standard flatbed and direct aisle access for every passenger in business class.
Doha-London Heathrow will be the launch route for the aircraft.
“Qatar Airways always demands the very best for its customers, so it is right that we are the first airline in the world to fly the Airbus A350-1000,” Qatar Airways chief executive, Akbar Al Baker said in a statement,
“This remarkable state-of-the-art aircraft will become a firm part of Qatar Airways fleet and will keep us ahead of the curve, allowing us to continue to offer our passengers outstanding levels of comfort and service”.
Airbus Commercial Aircraft president Fabrice Brégier said there was huge pride at the company following the delivery of the aircraft to Qatar Airways.
“Bringing major advantages in fuel and cost efficiency along with unmatched passenger comfort, the A350-1000 is the ideal aircraft to showcase Qatar Airways’ legendary customer service,” Bregier said.
“With its greater capacity compared to the A350-900, the newest widebody will play a major role on the carrier’s busiest long-haul routes and will contribute to strengthen their position at the forefront of the aviation industry.”
The Doha-headquartered carrier was also the launch customer of the A350-900.
In an Australian context, Qantas is particularly interested in the A350 design for its Project Sunrise requirement for an aircraft capable of flying nonstop from the east coast of Australia to both London and New York (for which Boeing is expected to offer a development of its Boeing 777-8X).
Airbus recently showcased the A350-1000 to Qantas, with MSN065 F-WLXV spending two days in Sydney as part of a world tour. The aircraft was also be demonstrated to Air New Zealand in Auckland, while in the past Virgin Australia has also shown interest in Airbus’s newest widebody design.
The A350-1000 is 73.78m in length, 6.98m longer than the A350-900, and is designed to fly 7,950nm carrying 366 passengers, 41 more passengers than the A350-900 which is already flying with a number of airlines.
While Airbus’s solution for the Project Sunrise mission seems likely to be based on the 9,7000nm range A350-900ULR, which has been ordered by Singapore Airlines to operate nonstop from Singapore to New York, the high degree of commonality between A350 variants means the A350-1000’s visit was a timely one for Qantas technical and operational staff as the airline appraises its options for the demanding ultra long-haul mission.
To date Airbus holds 854 orders firm orders for the A350, of which 146 had been delivered by the end of January. Of those, 169 orders are for the A350-1000.
No airline in Oceania has ordered the A350, although the A350-900 twin is an increasingly common sight at local airports thanks to services operated by Cathay Pacific (Auckland, Christchurch (seasonal), Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth), Qatar Airways (Adelaide), Singapore Airlines (Brisbane and Melbourne) and Thai Airways (Melbourne).
Qatar Airways posted a behind the scenes video of the making of its first A350-1000 on its YouTube channel: