Qatar Airways yesterday took delivery of the first of its A380 aircraft in a ceremony at Airbus' Hamburg factory.
The A380 has been much delayed (see news, July 7), but the Gulf carrier's chief executive Akbar Al Baker refused to blame Airbus for the late delivery.
Instead, he attributed the delays to his airline's commitment to quality.
The Qatar Airways A380 has 517 seats with eight in first class, 48 in business and 461 in economy. To read more about the aircraft's first class offering, click here.
Inflight entertainment onboard is the Thales mainframe Top Series Avant system, while the aircraft has Engine Alliance GP7000 engines.
In reference to competitor Etihad and its recently unveiled A380 onboard products (see news, May 4), Al Baker smilingly apologised for the fact that his A380 had "no apartments, residences, no butlers" but instead "had class".
He confirmed that London will be the superjumbo's inaugural route on October 10, with Paris following in October not November as had been previously reported.
Al Baker said: "The A380 that we are introducing is not just any A380. We have completely designed every element, giving it a signature touch that has never been seen before on board.
"Additionally, the newly opened Hamad International Airport, the airline’s hub in Doha, has been specifically created with the A380 in mind, with five contact gates dedicated only for this aircraft, making the experience smooth and effortless for passengers."
Above and below: Business class cabin on the upper deck
Qatar Airways' third and fourth A380s are currently being fitted-out at the Hamburg site. These will be delivered before the end of 2014 and are part of the ten firm orders and three options the carrier has placed with Airbus.
Questions were asked at the press conference about the "leaking doors" of the A380 and Airbus confirmed that a retrofit programme is now taking place for all superjumbo customers. Nevertheless, Airbus president and CEO Fabrice Bregier denied that this had affected the aircraft's reliability.
Qatar Airways deliveries already have this retrofit in place.
Business Traveller is flying on he delivery flight on Thursday and will review the onboard seating.
Seatplan: Provided by Qatar Airways
A380 FAST FACTS
- 142 A380s have been delivered to 12 operators since October 2007 (Qatar Airways, Lufthansa, Air France, Emirates, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, China Southern Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways, British Airways, Asiana)
- Qatar Airways has become the 12th operator and its first aircraft is the 142nd A380 delivered
- Total firm orders for the A380 stand at 318 aircraft from 19 customers
- Airbus estimates the market potential as around 1,700 aircraft (of which Airbus targets appoximately 50 per cent)
- The first flight took place in Toulouse on April 27, 2005
- The A380 entered into commercial service with Singapore Airlines in October 2007
- The A380 undertakes some 170 flights per day worldwide, with 84 routes and two million passengers each month
- The world A380 fleet has accumulated more than 1.5 million revenue flight hours in over 180,000 commercial flights, carrying more than 65 million passengers
- An A380 takes off or lands in the world every four minutes
- The A380 is already airport proven with 160 small and large airports visited to date. It operates at 41 airports using existing ground handling to ensure short turnaround time
- The A380 family starts from a baseline passenger aircraft with a capacity of 525 passengers in three classes, and a range of 15,700 km / 8,500 nautical miles (more than 1,300 nautical miles than the 47, 1,100 nautical miles more than the 747-8).