Qatar Airways today confirmed a USD6 billion order for 80 Airbus A350s making the airline the single largest customer of the European aircraft manufacturer’s newest commercial jet. The airline has also increased its orders for the widebody Airbus A380s from two to five aircraft.
At a press conference held on the opening day of the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget today, Qatar Airways’ Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker confirmed the orders in the presence of Airbus President Louis Gallois.
The A350 deal replaces original plans announced two years ago by Qatar Airways to purchase 60 A350s. Qatar Airways has now opted for the redesigned ‘Extra Wide Body’ (XWB) version of the A350 in three different variants.
Qatar Airways’ commitment announced today is for 20 Airbus A350-800s, 40 A350-900s and 20 A350-1000s, the latter being a stretched version of the new aircraft. Qatar Airways is the launch customer of the A350-1000XWB variant.
The A350-XWB, depending upon variant, will have between 260 and 350 seats in a Qatar Airways’ typical two-class configuration and will be used to operate on key routes across Qatar Airways’ international network covering Europe, Africa, Far East and Indian subcontinent.
Deliveries are set to begin in August 2013 and will gradually replace the Airbus A330s, which are currently the backbone of Qatar Airways’ fleet.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said the announcement finally ended months of protracted negotiations with Airbus over the design of the A350-XWB.
‘This deal has been a long time coming but clearly demonstrates Qatar Airways’ commitment to this new generation aircraft,’ he said, speaking at a packed press conference at Le Bourget.
‘This large A350-XWB order, comprising all three variants, underlines the confidence that Qatar Airways has in Airbus’ capability to produce an outstanding, new generation twin-engine widebody aircraft for entry into service from 2013. Qatar Airways has, and will continue to, work with Airbus and Rolls Royce in the definition and optimisation of an outstanding family of aircraft.’
Qatar Airways is the largest Airbus operator in the Middle East, currently flying 58 all-Airbus aircraft, including the A319s, A320s, A321s, A330s and A340s. Qatar Airways is also a launch customer of the A380 twin-deck ‘superjumbo’ with five now on order for deliveries beginning in 2010.
Doha-based Qatar Airways is one of the fastest growing airlines in the world flying its award-winning Five Star service to 75 destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Indian subcontinent and the Far East.
From June 26, Qatar Airways takes its first steps into North America with the launch of four flights a week to New York. The flights, operating via Geneva - another new destination on the airline’s rapidly growing international route map - will operate to Newark Liberty International Airport, becoming the first Middle East carrier flying to this key gateway airport in the New York area.
Just weeks later, starting on July 19, Qatar Airways will bridge the capitals of Qatar and the United States. The airline will be the only Middle East carrier flying daily non-stop services to Dulles International Airport in Washington DC.