Qatar Airways (QR) is the first airline worldwide to operate the Airbus A350-900 plane. Its maiden flight was flown in October 2014, with delivery in December 2014 and first commercial operation shortly after that in January 2015.
Introduction – Maiden Flight
Qatar was the launch customer of the Airbus A350 in June 2007 with 80 on order (43 in the -900 variant and 37 in the -1000 variant). The -900 variant is capable of flying 7,750 nm with a three class configuration of 314 passengers. This plane directly completes with Boeing’s 777 and 787s. The -1000 variant’s design has not been finalized but will likely to have higher capacity with similar or lower flying capability.
The following is a YouTube video of the A350 test flight wearing Qatar livery at the Famborough Air Show earlier in 2014.
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certified the A350 for up to 370 minutes of Extended range Twin Operations (ETOPS). Which means it is certified to fly 370 minutes with only one engine (that is about 2,500 nm) away from the nearest suitable airport. This can be used as a competitive advantage as the 787 is only certified for 330 minutes.
October 20, 2014
Qatar just announced today that the first destination for the A350-900 would be Doha (DOH) to Frankfurt (FRA) in January 2015. We will update this new historic flight when information about timing and configuration are announced. It is likely that Qatar will use the business and economy class seats introduced in the 787.
Update – November 20, 2014
Gulf news reported that Qatar will receive its A350-900 between December 12 to 15, 2014.
Update – December 4, 2014
Update – December 7, 2014
Just ahead of the A350 launch, Airbus was able to assemble the entire fleet of five testers for a family portrait. This is what they came up with. Flying in a tight formation requires a lot of planning, pilot training and precision flying. The exercise provided passengers another opportunity to catch the A350s together and help create a marketing buzz surrounding the delivery scheduled for December 13, 2014. (Credit to our friend JetSetBen for the update)
Update – December 10, 2014
Flightglobal.com reported that the A350 delivery has been postponed indefinitely due to undisclosed reasons.
In a statement, the airline says the delivery has been postponed but does not explain the reason: “Qatar Airways announces that the Airbus A350 aircraft ceremonial transfer of title has been postponed until further notice.”
Airbus does not elaborate on the situation either, saying: “We are working very closely with Qatar Airways to meet our common goal to deliver their first A350 XWB very soon.”
We will follow the development and update this piece.
Update – December 15, 2014
Qatar Airways is now reported to receive its first Airbus A350-900 next Monday, December 22, 2014 and will hold a VIP ceremony to celebrate the delivery on January 7, 2015.
Update – December 22, 2014
Qatar Airways received the world’s first Airbus A350-900 on December 22, 2014 in a big ceremony. Here is a highlight clip from the delivery ceremony.
The plane will feature 287 seats in a two class configuration. As usual, we have the following infographics to highlight the flight facts and path.
287 seats in a two class configuration matches well with its higher density Airbus A330-300 (up to 305 seats – 2 engines – 6,100nautical miles (nm)) and Airbus A340-600 (306 seats – 4 engines – 8,700nm) which would be phased out over time with this brand new aircraft. A new more fuel efficient engine that can have a longer flight range 8,800nm will ensure that the plane will be operating at a lower cost base.
The flight time for both QR 67 and 68 are ideal for connections. QR67 lands at 1230pm which will give passengers an opportunity to connect to other European, North American and South American cities. QR68 lands at 2325 which provides options for onward travel to Asian cities.
Update – January 16, 2015
The first flight on the A350-900 was taken. Richard Quest reported this historic flight for CNN as shown below.
With the A350-900, Qatar Airways can use this aircraft to fly to destinations like Vancouver (YVR), Los Angeles (LAX), Sydney, Australia (SYD) and Mexico city (MEX).
June 1, 2015
It has been almost five months since the Qatar Airways flew its first commercial flight on board the Airbus A350-900. Since the the first destination was announced, additional ones have been added with new delivery of the aircraft (2 as of June 2015 with another 2 coming on the delivery schedule in Summer 2015).
Singapore’s Changi International Airport (SIN) has two daily flights on this aircraft as of today and will be up to triple daily by August 1, 2015. The following is the updated schedule:
- Departure in Doha QR944 at 02:25, arriving in Singapore at 15:15
- Departure from Singapore QR945 02:30, arriving in Doha at 05:05
- Departure in Doha QR938 at 07:00, arriving in Singapore at 19:50
- Departure from Singapore QR939 at 21:20, arriving in Doha at 23:55
- Departure in Doha QR942 at 20:25, arriving in Singapore at 09:15+1
- Departure from Singapore QR943 at 10:40, arriving in Doha at 13:15
These flights provide convenient connection to European options at Doha.
Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) will be the first US destination to be served by this aircraft on January 1, 2016. It will replace a Boeing 777-200LR currently on this route. Additionally New York JFK Airport (JFK) (new frequency) and Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) (new route) are the next two cities in line with introduction on March 1 and March 16 respectively.