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Qatar Airways Welcomes First New Airbus A350 After Long Wait

Qatar Airways is now home to its first new Airbus A350 aircraft in nearly two and a half years. A brand-new A350-1000 flew from Toulouse to Doha on May 12th. This significant event marks a milestone for the airline. The A7-ANT registered plane, the 20th A350-1000, brings the total count of A350s in Qatar Airways’ fleet to 54.

From Toulouse to Doha: The Long-Awaited Delivery Flight

Qatar Airways Airbus A350

Data from FlightRadar24.com provides details of the delivery flight. On May 12th, the A7-ANT left Toulouse (TLS) at 21:29. The plane, designated as QR3181, took an overnight journey. It arrived at Qatar Airways’ hub, Doha Hamad International (DOH), at 04:21 on May 13th. The delivery flight took five hours and 52 minutes in total.

Before joining Qatar Airways, the A350-1000, known by its manufacturer’s serial number (MSN 430), had a busy schedule. It took 11 flights, amounting to almost 16 hours of flight time. Although first spotted in March 2020 and completing its initial test flight in November 2021, not all its flights were test flights. Some were for moving the aircraft to and from storage at Châteauroux-Centre “Marcel Dassault” Airport (CHR). Others were for keeping the airframe in top shape.

Post-Dispute Resolution: The First Airbus Delivery

Qatar Airways Airbus A350

MSN 430’s arrival in Doha is not just another routine delivery. It’s the first new Airbus jet delivery to Qatar Airways since December 2020. During 2021 and 2022, Qatar Airways and Airbus were in a legal dispute. This dispute revolved around surface degradation issues on about two dozen airframes. During this time, Airbus canceled Qatar’s pending and undelivered orders. This cancellation led the airline to strike a deal with Boeing.

However, on February 1st, 2023, Qatar Airways and Airbus found common ground. They reached an agreement, and the lawsuit was withdrawn. As a result, Qatar Airways had all its pending orders, including those for A350s, reinstated.

If you missed it, here is the full story: Qatar Airways vs. Airbus: The Ongoing Dispute over A350 Paint Issues

Overcoming Challenges: Qatar Airways’ Strategies

Qatar Airways has sought alternative strategies to manage the post-pandemic travel surge over the past two years. These strategies included leasing Boeing 777-300ERs from Cathay Pacific and Airbus A330-300s from Oman Air.

Qatar Airways Airbus A380
Photo by: Akbarali Mastan

A380 fans have something to celebrate as well. The dispute resolution led to the reintroduction of several A380s into Qatar Airways’ operations. This summer, the airline plans to use the A380 for two daily flights to Heathrow, and services to Sydney and Bangkok. Even though Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker doesn’t see a long-term future for the A380s, these aircraft are playing a key role. They are helping manage high demand at severely slot-restricted airports like London Heathrow.

In light of these developments, we’re curious to know what you think about Qatar Airways’ fleet strategy. Given the challenges of the past two years, how do you see the integration of the new A350-1000 and the reintroduction of the A380s influencing the airline’s future operations and global standing in the aviation industry? Please share your insights in the comments below.

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