Yesterday, all eyes were on the Qatar Airways A350. 170 journalists from around the world travelled to the aircraft manufacturer’s delivery centre in Toulouse, south western France, for the first delivery of the new long-haul Airbus. An achievement for Airbus eight years after the launch of the programme, and an investment of some ten billion euros. Heralding in, perhaps, the beginning of a trade war over the next twenty years with their US rival in the twin-aisle market.
Fabrice Brégier, Chief Executive Officer - Airbus: watch the interview in the video.
After the classical music accompanied ceremony, interspersed with moments of thank you speeches all round, Qatar Airways wanted to give the guests a taste of what to expect on the coming 15th January flight from Doha to Frankfurt aboard the company’s A350; so, boarding pass in hand, everyone headed for a one hour flight over the Pyrenees.
Once on board, of course, you take a look around, but having left the ground, what strikes you is the size of the bigger windows, which offered stunning views of the snow covered mountain peaks. Inside, the cabin is quiet, although during this particular flight, it was not so obvious with all the hustle and bustle of the journalists, to the point where the cabin crew were struggling to make their way in the aisles. One other point to note is that the overhead lockers are also bigger.
In Economy Class on their A350, Qatar Airways offers 247, 46 centimetres (18 in.) wide seats, incorporating a height-adjustable headrest and touch screen.
In the front of the aircraft, all 36 Business Class seats have direct aisle access, are convertible into two metre (6½ ft.) long beds, and have 43 centimetre (17 in.) HD screens. A bar is also available for Business Class customers. But surprise, surprise, there is no First Class.
Akbar Al Baker, Chief Executive Officer - Qatar Airways: watch the interview in the video.
Qatar Airways has ordered a total of 80 A350’s, and will receive others in 2015. Airbus expects to deliver fifteen aircraft next year. Next on the list is Vietnam Airlines.