MIAMI — Earlier this week, the A350-1000 landed in Doha, Qatar as part of its Middle-East and Asia-Pacific demonstration tour which is to span over the next three weeks.
Doha is the first of 12 and is meaningful due to Qatar Airways being the launch customer of the type. Bloomberg reports, it is scheduled for delivery between February 15 and February 20.
Originally targeted for delivery in December 2017, the A350-1000 has been delayed due to cabin fit issues, particularly from the Zodiac manufactured QSuite Cabin.
It has become a given that new aircraft types launched by Qatar, such as the A320neo and A350-900 will be subject to a delivery delay, although this time Al Baker isn’t directing his ire at Airbus.
The delays in premium cabin fittings and lavatories by third-party suppliers has bedeviled many wide-body deliveries, especially the A350-900.
In a press release, Qatar’s CEO HE Akbar Al Baker commented on this aircraft type:
“We are delighted to welcome the Airbus A350-1000 test aircraft to Doha as part of its Demonstation Tour. Its arrival in Doha, as the first stop on this tour, has extra special significance for the people of Qatar, as Qatar Airways is the global launch customer for this incredible technologically-advanced aircraft. With this addition to our existing modern fleet, we will continue to set the standard in air travel for years to come. The delivery of the world’s first commercial A350-1000 next month is highly-anticipated by Qatar Airways passengers and employees. Our expert delivery staff have been working in partnership with Airbus to ensure a prompt entry into service so we can deliver outstanding levels of comfort, thanks to the A350-1000’s spacious cabins and advanced technology. We very much look forward to welcoming the A350-1000 into our growing fleet of more than 200 aircraft.”
Fabrice Bregier, Airbus’ COO and President of Commercial Aircraft also commented on this first landing:
“We are delighted that one of our A350-1000 test aircraft visited Doha as the first stop on a global Demonstration Tour to salute Qatar Airways, the global launch customer for the aircraft. At Airbus we look forward to delivering the world’s first A350-1000 to Qatar Airways in the coming weeks.”
The A350-1000 is 23 feet longer than the Airbus A350-900. It will have a substantial increase in seating and cargo capacity, though the exact cabin configuration and routes have yet to be revealed. Qatar has 37 A350-1000s on order.
It could be argued that a year of competition is ahead, especially with Singapore Airlines confirming that they are to receive their first 787-10 at the end of the March. Singapore has yet to disclose routes other than the aircraft will operate regionally, or cabin configurations.
So with the deliveries of the two different aircraft types being a month apart, it shows that the heat is on to see what the initial launch carriers think of the aircraft types, especially going into Farnborough this year.
On top of this, over the next two years, there is the Boeing 777X, in which deliveries are to begin by 2020. With that aircraft also on the way, will Airbus announce another variant of the A350 to compete with this aircraft or will they leave the A380 to potentially compete with that aircraft instead, considering the lifeline it had been given from Emirates for at least another five to six years?
There has always been talk about Airbus potentially implementing the A350-2000, to compete against the 777-9X, into their family program, especially when they were going to implement the -800 variant and had active orders that were subsequently canceled by carriers.
It most definitely will be interesting to see what happens and whether any more announcements will be made looking between now and 2020.