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Qatar Airways Unveils First A350XWB

Qatar Airways Unveils First A350XWB

Qatar’s 283-seat aircraft was officially unveiled to international media and dignatories in Doha today.

Qatar Airways’ Group Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker today hailed its first Airbus A350XWB aircraft as “a design of a decade” whose cabin comforts will be matched by fuel efficiencies.

Qatar’s 283-seat aircraft (36 business, 247 economy) was officially unveiled to international media and dignatories in Doha today.

It will enter service between Doha and Frankfurt from January 15 and is earmarked to serve New York, secondary cities in Europe, currently served by B787s, and routes across the Subcontinent and Far East.

Today’s unveiling marked the end of an eight-year journey for Airbus, after Qatar Airways ordered the aircraft at Le Bourget Airshow in 2007.

Powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, the aircraft, predominantly made from carbon fibre (53 per cent) and titanium (14 per cent), offers 25 per cent lower seat-mile costs compared with current aluminium long-range aircraft.

Didier Evrard, Airbus EVP head of programmes, said: “The arrival is a great moment for both companies and the result of a decade’s work by thousands of people. Qatar Airways’ cabin design is impressive and raises the bar for the whole industry.”

Mike Bausor, Airbus’ A350XWB Marketing Director, said the aircraft consistently beat its certification targets but acknowledged the hard work now starts meeting delivery schedules with 777 aircraft on order. Airbus is targeting three aircraft a month and aims to roll out 10 a month by 2018.

Al Baker said it is working on a new premium seat – distinct from the ‘super business class’ previously announced – which will be “unrivalled”. In an aside, he mentioned “double bed with business class fare”, adding more details would be released at ITB Berlin.

On the topical issue of airline tracking, following MH370’s disappearance and the AirAsia disaster, he said it was “aggressively pursuing” automatic tracking of planes without control of pilots.

“We are experimenting with a supplier testing a system so all flight data recorded in the flight data recorder is also received in our operational centre,” he said.

Echoing the sense of change, the conference was held in the former Premium Terminal, itself now turned into an event space following the opening of Hamad International Airport.

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