Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, HE Akbar Al Baker, chaired a press conference on 22 December 2014 at the Airbus Delivery Centre in Toulouse, France for the delivery of the first A350 XWB to Qatar Airways, of which the airline is the global launch customer.
More than 150 international media travelled from all corners of the globe to witness the delivery. In attendance at the press conference and delivery ceremony in Toulouse were Fabrice Bregier, President and Chief Executive Officer at Airbus and Tony Wood, President – Aerospace from Rolls Royce, and Qatar’s Ambassador to France, HE Sheikh Mishaal bin Hamad Al Thani, witnessing the arrival of the airline’s first A350 XWB aircraft. Speaking at the press conference, Al Baker explained about Qatar Airways’ rapid expansion plans, boosted by the arrival of this latest aircraft type. Al Baker said:
Today marks a momentous occasion in the history of our airline. Not only are we welcoming a new aircraft type into the Qatar Airways fleet, but as global launch customer for the A350 XWB, we are receiving the newest and most modern aircraft that the world will see for at least another decade. With our significant order as launch customer for 80 of this aircraft type, it has enabled Airbus to create an aircraft that not only considers every aspect of passenger comfort, but also features the cutting-edge light-weight carbon composite design, which in turn allows fuel consumption and noise to be reduced, along with many other leading features. I am confident that with our passenger insight, the aircraft that has today been welcomed into our fleet will be the footprint for all future aircraft design, both with regard to technological advancements and the passenger journey itself.’
The entire day was filled with cultural high notes. The audience witnessed an artistic performance by musicians from the Orchestra National du Capitole de Toulouse under the musical direction of Pierre Bleuse. Renowned calligraphy artist, Faouzia Hilmy, performed sand artistry and poetry about friendship by Al Buhtari, a famous Arabic poet from the 9th century. Finally, Hiba Al Kawas, the Grand Dame of Arabic opera singing and composing, performed a popular Arabic folklore song that mirrors the high regard for culture and classical music which the State of Qatar has supported for many years. Following the press conference and delivery ceremony, media were taken on a short flight onboard the A350, overlooking the Pyrenees mountains in south-western France.
Airbus President and CEO, Fabrice Brégier, said:
Handing over the first A350 XWB represents a significant step in Airbus and aviation history. The A350 XWB becomes the most modern aircraft in service, developed with our excellence established over 45 years in meeting our customers’ needs. The A350 XWB is the latest Airbus aircraft to join the skies, revolutionising our industry and redefining the way people fly. It is with tremendous pride that we are delivering our first A350 XWB today to our launch customer, Qatar Airways. It’s a perfect match, to be handing over the first of an all-new, world-class aircraft to a leading, world-class airline.’
The first commercial service will be deployed on the Doha-Frankfurt route in January 2015. The A350 XWB will comprise a two-class configuration with 36 Business Class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, featuring 80” fully flat beds and 17” HD in-flight entertainment screens. Economy Class will comprise of 247 seats, each 18-inches wide in a 3-3-3 configuration, with up to a 32-inch pitch. Each individual seat will feature a 10.6” in-flight entertainment screen, and more space at shoulder level for passengers in window seats, thanks to a vertical side wall panel design.
As global launch customer for the A350 XWB, Qatar Airways will be the only airline to fly this aircraft type for the foreseeable future, and was a significant contributor to its cutting-edge design in partnership with aircraft manufacturer, Airbus. The delivery of the A350 XWB is the second significant fleet milestone for the airline in almost as many months, having recently taken delivery of its first A380 aircraft in September.
Over 70% of the A350 XWB’s weight-efficient airframe is made from advanced materials combining composites (53%), titanium and advanced aluminium alloys. The aircraft’s innovative all-new carbon fibre reinforced plastic fuselage results in lower fuel burn as well as easier maintenance.
Qatar Airways has a robust range of Airbus aircraft in its fleet. In addition to the 80 A350s it has on order, the airline has a current Airbus fleet comprising of the A320, A330 Freighter, A319LR, A321, A330, A340 and A380 families.