Leading the way -- Qatar the first to receive Airbus A350

Published December 22nd, 2014 - 05:00 GMT

Qatar Airways will receive the first A350XWB aircraft from Airbus in a ceremony in Toulouse on Monday afternoon.

The A350XWB widebody aircraft contain 276-369 seats in three passenger versions – A350-800, A350-900 and A350-1000 – and Airbus claims it offers 25 per cent lower fuel consumption than comparable aircraft.

Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at StrategicAero Research, said the A350XWB programme was one that Airbus was reluctant to launch while erroneously thinking its ageing A330 could “cut the mustard” with the more fuel-efficient and lower operating costs of Boeing’s 787.

“The long development process of the A350-900 has yielded Airbus a degree of success…but now that the A350-900 is in Qatar Airways’ hands, Airbus will be vying to garner more orders as airlines look to take advantage of these new generation of jets that aim to revolutionise air travel.”

The A350-900 will provide Qatar Airways with another long haul jet that can further reach new destinations with a slightly higher capacity than its B787s on more dense and higher demand routes, particularly to regions like Europe. It will begin services to Frankfurt in January.

Although Emirates cancelled a 70-strong order for A350s last summer, interest from Gulf airlines remains strong. The Doha carrier has 80 A350s on order – the most of any carrier, comprising 42 A350-900s and 37 A350-1000s – and Etihad has ordered 50 A350XWBs.

With the A350s and the B777X programme, that has also been strongly backed by all three Gulf carriers, the region’s airlines are becoming increasingly pivotal for Boeing and Airbus.

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