APEX Insight: APEX Media got a tour of Qatar’s first Airbus A350-1000 aircraft, which is configured with 327 seats – 46 in Qsuite and 281 in economy – all equipped with Thales’ seatback in-flight entertainment systems.
Qatar Airways took delivery of the first Airbus A350-1000 aircraft today in Toulouse, coinciding with Fabrice Brégier’s last day in the role of Airbus CEO. During the event, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker claimed the aircraft was “truly visionary in every respect,” and that this delivery was “the crown” in Brégier’s career.
From Toulouse: Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker says QSuite has redefined pax expectations of business travel & is a natural evolution of its core philosophy: "You can create your own experience on @QatarAirways” #Firstin1000 #A350 #PaxEx pic.twitter.com/ff8l4hvjeO
— APEX (@theAPEXassoc) February 20, 2018
Particular attention was paid to Qatar’s modular Qsuite offering, which is the first business-class product to offer the possibility of a double bed. Al Baker stated, “It has redefined passenger expectations of business travel and is a natural evolution of our philosophy: You can create your own experience on Qatar Airways.”
The new A350-1000 aircraft is the 16th in Qatar’s fleet to be installed with Qsuite. Al Baker confirmed the carrier is already retrofitting its Boeing 777s with the product and will eventually install it on its existing A350-900s. Qsuite will not appear on Qatar’s Boeing 787s, as the cabin is too narrow to accommodate its forward and aft seating design, but Al Baker said the airline will upgrade its 787 business-class offering so that it provides total privacy. Qatar does not offer a first-class product on any aircraft other than its A380s, he reiterated, declaring Qsuite “is the ultimate in luxury.”
Qatar’s first A350-1000 will enter service on the airline’s existing route between London Heathrow and Doha before eventually being used for flights to the Eastern seaboard of the US and longer range flights to Australasia.
Qatar’s A350-1000 is configured with 327 seats – 46 in Qsuite and 281 in economy – all equipped with Thales’ seatback in-flight entertainment systems. This seat count is smaller than the Airbus standard for the aircraft type, which has a total of 366 seats in a three-class configuration (business, premium economy and economy) and can go to ten-abreast in economy. Marisa Lucas, Airbus’ head of A350 XWB Marketing, said the A350-1000 does have two other customers choosing this option, but maintains the cabin allows for an 18-inch seat width.
Al Baker claims it was the airline’s belief in the A350-900 program that paved the way for the A350-1000. After ordering 80 A350-900s in 2007, Qatar upgraded the order in 2011 to include 37 A350-1000s. However, Al Baker hinted this number could increase considering the attention it has received. With a fuselage seven meters longer than the A350-900, Qatar’s A350-1000 can accommodate an additional 44 passengers than the A350-900.
Al Baker also disclosed that, to meet its contractual agreement, Airbus is required to deliver six A350-1000s to Qatar by the end of 2018, but that there will be a steep ramp-up in deliveries from 2019.
Highlighting how Qatar continues to innovate, Al Baker pointed to the airline’s recent adoption of the “world’s highest speed internet” (Inmarsat’s GX Aviation). He promised, “By end of next year every Qatar aircraft will give you the highest speed of internet you can have.”