Qatar Airways’ celebratory inaugural launch of its first A380 super-jumbo took place in Doha on the evening of Thursday 18 September 2014, in the presence of the Patron, The Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of the State of Qatar, HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, Minister of Finance and Chairman of Qatar Airways, HE Ali Shareef Al Emadi, the Group Chief Executive of Qatar Airways, HE Akbar Al Baker, Ministers, Sheikhs and Ambassadors.
Departing Hamburg, Germany, direct from the Airbus facility on Thursday morning, it touched down at 5 pm to a spectacular ceremony at Doha’s Hamad International Airport (HIA) with more than 500 guests in attendance, including Government Ministers of the State of Qatar, dignitaries, guests and members of the media.
With the press of a button, the event commenced with a symbolic drawing of the curtain, opened by the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani.
Live entertainment and a dance troupe captivated the guests against the backdrop of the super jumbo aircraft in an event specially designed event next to the largest aircraft maintenance hangar in the world, able to accommodate 13 aircraft, including two A380s simultaneously, at any given time.
Addressing local and international media at a press conference on arrival, Al Baker said that the arrival of the new super-jumbo marks a moment of great pride for the State of Qatar and the national airline. He said:
Qatar Airways has grown from strength to strength, and is recognised all around the world for its excellence and high standards, and this is thanks to the vision of The Emir of Qatar, HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and HH The Father Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. As the State of Qatar’s national airline, we began operations in 1997 with just four aircraft operating to 14 regional routes. In 2003, we placed our order for the A380 super-jumbo and at that time we were operating to only 50 destinations with 28 aircraft. Today, as the A380 joins our rapidly growing fleet, we are operating 137 aircraft to 144 destinations in six continents. With the start of operations of Hamad International Airport just four months ago, it prepared us to begin operations for the A380 with specially designed boarding gates and facilities to facilitate seamless passenger experiences for this ultra-large aircraft. The A380 will form the backbone of our fleet, and support our strategy of facilitating predominantly long-haul traffic with high density, widebody aircraft.’
Special guests at the Qatar Airways’ A380 unveiling included FC Barcelona legend and former captain, FC Barcelona Assistant Director of Sport, Carles Puyol; one of FC Barcelona’s newest players, Luis Suarez, and FC Barcelona General Director, Antoni Rossich.
Following the spectacular entertainment, unveiling and a video of the making of the Qatar Airways’ first A380, dignitaries and guests were treated to tours of the airline’s latest addition to its five-star fleet.
Qatar Airways currently has 13 Airbus A380 aircraft on order, 10 firm and three options, with a total of four set to be inducted into the fleet before year end. The capacity of the airline’s A380 is 517 seats in a tri-class configuration of eight seats in First Class, 48 in Business Class and 461 in Economy Class spread across two decks. The Qatar Airways A380 has a bespoke interior, including a Premium Lounge on the upper deck and 90-inch First Class seats that recline into fully flat beds.
London Heathrow will be the first route for the A380, operating as flight QR001 from 10 October 2014, followed soon after by Paris, France.