On Thursday evening, three brand-new Airbus A350-1000s made their way from Airbus in Toulouse to Qatar Airways. A rare occurrence in 2020, the long-haul aircraft delivery took a detour through UK skies before heading to join its stablemates in Doha.
With all the unavoidable delivery deferrals and order cancellations of late, it is nice to report on new aircraft joining airline fleets. On Thursday, Qatar Airways announced that it had taken delivery of three new Airbus A350-1000 widebody jets. However, the aircraft did not fly straight from the manufacturer’s facilities in Toulouse, France. Instead, they took a little detour across the English Channel before turning east just south of London and then towards Doha in Qatar.
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An administrative detour
The three planes are the first widebody aircraft to enter Qatar’s fleet since the beginning of the crisis. They are registered as A7-ANO, A7-ANQ, and A7-ANR. According to Aviation24.be, Qatar is leasing the planes from an undisclosed lessor. For all financial matters to be in order, the aircraft needed to spend some time in British airspace. All paperwork and the token administrative run completed, they could continue on to their new home at Hamad International Airport.
One-hour intervals between flights
Flight QR3350, QR3351, and QR3358 took off from Toulouse on Thursday with scheduled one-hour intervals, starting at 16:00. They then followed more or less the exact same flight path. Their total flight time from Toulouse to Doha, including the UK airspace pitstop, differed by only a couple of minutes, from 6 hours 55 minutes to 6 hours 58 minutes.
With today’s delivery, we continue to operate the largest fleet of A350-1000 aircraft offering our passengers the latest innovations in passenger comfort with the widest seats, widest cabin body and LED mood lighting to reduce the effects of jet lag. https://t.co/6EZ8tupUBI pic.twitter.com/L04JI9LXPr
— Qatar Airways (@qatarairways) October 23, 2020
The greener Gulf option?
With the latest delivery announcement, Qatar Airways is keen to position itself as the environmentally-conscious choice, particularly among the Gulf carriers.
“As one of the only airlines to continue taking delivery of new aircraft at this time, our strategic investment in modern, fuel-efficient twin-engine aircraft has enabled us to continue flying,” Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker said in a statement seen by Simple Flying.
“Environmentally conscious passengers can travel with the reassurance that Qatar Airways continuously monitors the market to assess both passenger and cargo demand to ensure it operates the most efficient aircraft on each route,” he continued.
Furthermore, Mr Al Baker reiterated that Qatar is keeping its A380s grounded as they are not “environmentally justifiable” to operate in the current situation.
Beyond a slightly lighter environmental conscience, passengers traveling with the new A350-1000s can enjoy the widest seats of any aircraft in its category for all cabin classes. The planes also feature Qatar’s much-lauded QSuite for business class passengers, which retained the Skytrax Best Business Seat award for 2019.
A total of 42, but by when?
Qatar took delivery of the world’s first A350-1000 in February 2018. With yesterday’s delivery, Qatar Airways now has 18 A350-1000s in its fleet. It has an order for a total of 42. In September, the airline said that it had reached an agreement with Airbus to defer the long-haul jets’ deliveries, along with the 50 A321neos the carrier is expecting.
What do you make of the aircraft delivery detour? Are you excited to see new long-haul jets join airline fleets again? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.