Airbus will deliver the first ever A350-1000 jet to an airline to Qatar Airways between Feb. 15 and Feb. 20, the carrier’s chief executive said on Saturday. Delivery of Europe’s largest twin-engined passenger jet to launch customer Qatar Airways had been delayed from late last year to some time next month due to issues with installing business class seats. “We are progressing very well to receive our aircraft somewhere between the 15th and 20th [of February],” Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker told reporters in Doha. Qatar Airways has ordered 37 A350-1000s. The major Middle East airline is known to be a demanding customer when reviewing aircraft for quality defects before delivery. Qatar Airways has in the past refused to take delivery of aircraft over what it said were quality issues, and has also cancelled some deliveries. The “complex seat configuration” of Qatar Airways’ Qsuite, business class which features seats that face each other, and lie-flat double beds, had delayed the delivery of the A350-1000, until February, Baker said on Monday without detailing a specific date.
The A350-1000 will be the first Airbus jet to feature the Qsuite, which was unveiled last year and has been installed on Qatar Airways’ Boeing 777 jets, Baker said. The A350-1000 is the largest version of the A350 series, and was launched to compete against Boeing’s 777s in the up to 400-seat market. Baker, speaking to reporters on board one of Airbus’ A350-1000 test aircraft, said the airline expected to receive four of the twin-engined jets this year. “This is contractually and I am confident that Airbus will deliver them to us,” he said.
An Airbus spokeswoman declined to comment on Baker’s remarks, telling Reuters that the European planemaker looked “forward to deliver the first A350-1000 to Qatar Airways” and that it was the “customer’s privilege to announce delivery schedule.” Qatar Airways plans to initially fly its first A350-1000 on long haul routes before adding it to ultra long-haul routes in a few months time, in case of any potential technical issues with the new jet. Baker said the airline expected to take delivery of its first Boeing 777x by the first half of 2020. The airline has ordered 60 777x jets, according to data on Boeing’s website.