Qatar Airways plans to steal the limelight at this year’s Farnborough International Airshow with a lavish four aircraft display.
In addition to its newly-delivered A380, the Doha-based carrier will at the July event be showing off its forthcoming A350, its newish B787 and one of its long-standing A320s, according to flightglobal.com.
The A380, of which Qatar has 13 on order, marks its return to the first class market. Right now details of accommodation on the superjumbo remain a closely-guarded secret, but Qatar promises to offer a luxurious first class cabin.
First route for the A380 will be to “a European destination”, the airline said. But it’s almost a certainty that destination will be London Heathrow with the first scheduled passenger flight taking place either before or after Farnborough.
Qatar has ordered no fewer than 80 A350s and was the launch customer for the large twin-engined wide-bodied plane, which appeared at last week’s Singapore Airshow.
The first A350 is expected to enter service with Qatar later this year, with a further nine aircraft arriving in 2015. It is designed for both medium and long-haul routes.
Already well-known to readers is the technically-advanced B787, of which Qatar has bought 60.
Configuration in business class is a spacious 1-2-1 layout. Not so impressive, judging by passenger feedback, is the tight 3-3-3 layout in the economy cabin along with 16.9-inch-wide seats.
It might appear the humble A320 will be overshadowed by such a prestigious line-up. But Qatar might spring a surprise.
The carrier is quietly upgrading the business cabin on some or all of its A320 narrow-bodied fleet, which are deployed both on local and medium-length routes (see news, February 9). The existing recliner seats are being removed to be replaced by fully-flat beds.
The significance of this move becomes apparent when you realise that possibly only two carriers, British Airways and Gulf Air, have adopted such seating on international routes owing to weight and space issues.
The A320 on display will be a refitted model with “sharklets” (an aerodynamic aid designed to lower fuel consumption) and hopefully with the latest business class cabin.