Qatar Airways has become the first airline to operate an A350 aircraft to the US.
It should be noted that the A350 deployed yesterday to JFK International Airport was not the typical aircraft used to service the Doha–New York route. Rather, it was a ferry flight that is likely to play a part in a forthcoming announcement by Qatar Airways group chief executive Akbar Al Baker later today.
Little is known about what he will say, but according to the media invitations that have gone out, it will be “a pivotal announcement” – one that will “usher in a historic moment in American aviation”.
The Gulf carrier was the first customer of the fuel-efficient aircraft, and currently operates a fleet of seven A350s, which it deploys on its twice-daily flights to Frankfurt and Munich, as well as three times a day to Singapore.
The aircraft will begin regular services to the US next year by replacing the incumbent B777-300ER on the daily flight to Philadelphia. As further A350s join the fleet throughout 2016, Qatar Airways will use these on routes to other US destinations, including Boston (March 16) and New York (April 1).
"We are proud to be the first commercial airline to land the Airbus A350 in the United States,” said Al Baker. “As the global launch customer of this new-generation aircraft, we are excited to introduce it to the American market, where we will commence commercial flights from January 1, 2016 on our route from Philadelphia."
“We are delighted that the A350 will bring its unbeatable economics and superior passenger comfort to another continent,” said Fabrice Brégier, Airbus president and chief executive who is joining the Qatar Airways celebrations in New York. “The A350 is the aircraft of choice in its category and set to become a reference among passengers for its unrivalled cabin comfort and quietness."
Qatar Airways has outfitted its A350 with a two-class configuration, which includes 36 seats in business and 247 in economy. Business class seats are arranged in a 1-2-1 layout, and feature 17-inch HD in-flight entertainment screens. Each seat can also be turned into an 80-inch flat-bed. The economy product boasts a seat width of 18 inches and is arranged in a 3-3-3 configuration.
For more information, visit qatarairways.com