The national carrier will be the world’s first airline to fly the A350 and has ordered 80 of the new aircraft in two models, the A350-900 being the smaller of the two.
In a statement, Qatar Airways explained its decision to focus on Frankfurt:
“The airline has chosen the European city for its first route for the Extra Wide Body service because of the significant capacity the aircraft provides for the comfort of its business and leisure travellers.”
Qatar Airways currently flies twice daily to the German city. The new A350 will be used for both flights, first with flight QR067/068, followed shortly by flight QR069/70.
Frankfurt is the hub of competitor Lufthansa, which began flying directly to and from Doha in 2011.
Last year, the German airline’s then-CEO said European carriers must rethink the way they do business to better compete with GCC airlines, including Qatar Airways, Etihad and Emirates.
At the time, Christoph Franz said:
“Let’s imagine – purely theoretically – a country in which nothing exists besides sand and a box of money. What do you have to do to develop this country economically? First you have to build a runway & establish a national carrier…”
After gaining European safety approval last month, Airbus said it is now working to get cabin furnishings ready for Qatar Airways’ first plane.
This week, the extra-wide bodied plane successfully completed its maiden flight, and Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker recently told reporters that the airline expects to receive the first plane between Dec. 8 and 10, allowing for preparations prior to the plane’s launch.
The airline has confirmed that it expects to have eight Airbus A350s in service by the end of next year, one less than previously reported.
Previously, Al Baker told reporters that after the first A350 delivery, the airline expects to receive nine aircrafts by next year, followed by one a month in 2016 and two a month in 2017.
Qatar Airways has ordered 80 of the new A350 aircraft, 43 of the —900 model and 37 of the larger —1000 model.
The latter model is not due to enter service until 2017.
The A350-900 holds 283 seats — 36 in Business and 247 in Economy — divided across a dual cabin layout in both classes, Qatar Airways have confirmed.
Each A350-900 is estimated to cost around $277.7 million.
Airbus claims that the planes are more fuel efficient than their current long-range competitor, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and that high-precision air management systems ensure total cabin air is renewed every two to three minutes.
Although Qatar Airways has yet to confirm what other routes the new aircraft will take, the airline said it would be “very soon introducing this next-generation aircraft on many other cities offered on the airline’s extensive network.”
The national carrier added that it plans to introduce two new routes by the end of this year, taking the number of destinations to 146.
On Oct. 26, Qatar Airways will begin flights to Djibouti in the Republic of Djibouti and on Dec. 4 flights to Asmara in Eritrea will also be launched.