Qatar Airways was once again the launch customer for the newest variant of the Airbus A350 on Tuesday. After being the first customer to receive the Airbus A350-900 in January 2015, the CEO was determined to be the first airline flying the A350-1000 as well.
Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, said: “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.”
The aircraft was initially scheduled to be delivered in December 2017, but the delivery faced delays due to problems related to the airline’s new business class cabin known as “Qsuites.” Regarding the issues, Baker stated: “It is very difficult to install a new program in a new airplane, especially the first one.”
Installing the new seats proved to be more complex than originally anticipated, however, any issues seem to be resolved as the suites are featured on the first aircraft, A7-ANA, and will be onboard all upcoming A350-900 and A350-1000 deliveries to Qatar.
When comparing the A350-900 and A350-1000, the biggest change is the 23-foot difference in fuselage length. As a result, the longer variant of the aircraft is capable of seating 44 additional passengers. On Qatar Airways’ planes, the A350-900 seats 283 passengers, while its latest addition to the fleet can hold 327 passengers.
A7-ANA will be ferried from Toulouse to Doha on Wednesday and will fly its inaugural revenue flight on Saturday’s QR15 to London Heathrow. Baker did not specify other routes that the airplane will fly, but mentioned the U.S. East Coast for future destinations. The aircraft will be the 23rd A350 for the airline, making Qatar Airways the largest operator of the type currently.
The Rolls-Royce XWB-97-powered A350-1000 can fly about 8,000 nautical miles. The aircraft is also the most expensive twin-engine Airbus aircraft currently being sold, with a list price of $366.5 million.
During a joint press conference between the airline and Airbus today, Baker also announced the possibility to convert some of its current A350-900 orders for the stretched A350-1000 variant of Airbus’ latest twin-engine flagship. Currently, the airline has 36 more A350-1000s on order.
Additionally, the airline gave an update on the rest of the fleet saying that they are not currently looking to purchase more A380s and expect to receive their first A321neo in 2019. Baker also announced the company’s intent to purchase 100 new jets for a startup carrier in India, however, no other specifics were given.
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