European government leaders joined senior airline industry figures from around the world for the ceremony at Airbus’s headquarters in the French city for a first glimpse of the aircraft before it enters commercial service next year.
Qatar Airways, national airline of the State of Qatar in the Arabian Gulf, has ordered four A380-800s, of which two are on firm order and two on option.
The airline is scheduled to take delivery of its first A380 in 2009 to coincide with the opening of the New Doha International Airport (NDIA), the first airport in the world to be designed and built specifically to accommodate the twin-deck A380.
The 555-seat four-engined A380 is the most advanced aircraft ever built, designed in close collaboration with major airlines, airports and airworthiness authorities worldwide.
“We are looking forward to the arrival of this aircraft to join our existing all-Airbus fleet. It will provide the ultimate travel experience with spacious and comfortable cabins throughout the aircraft,” he said.
“Though we are four years away from taking delivery of our first A380, we are already working on creating spectacular interiors to make it an experience of a lifetime for our passengers.”
Qatar Airways plans to initially operate the A380 on its flagship European route between Doha and London Heathrow and other prime, high-density routes.
The New Doha International Airport is scheduled to open in 2009 at a cost of $2.5bn in the first phase and will be capable of handling 12 million passengers a year. Once fully developed in 2015 at a cost of $5.5bn, the airport is expected to handle up to 50 million passengers.
One of the project’s key features is that 40% of the site will be built on reclaimed land from the Arabian Gulf.
Qatar Airways will manage the new airport, designed to help shape Doha as a key regional and global aviation hub.
As one of the fastest growing airlines in the world, Qatar Airways has quickly established itself as a leading player in the aviation industry in just a short few years since its launch in 1997.
The airline currently operates 39 aircraft flying to 59 destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Indian sub-continent and Asia. For winter 2004/2005, the airline has added six new routes from Doha – Beijing, Seychelles, London Gatwick, Yangon, Johannesburg and Cape Town.
From summer 2005, the network will grow to cover Osaka, Tunis, Algiers and Athens and, by the end of 2005, the airline’s international reach will spread to 70 cities.
Qatar Airways has earned global recognition for its award-winning service, being one of only three airlines in the world to have achieved a Five Star ranking for excellent service standards by Skytrax, an independent aviation industry monitoring agency.
In addition to its Five Star ranking, Qatar Airways was voted by Skytrax for having the best cabin crew in the Middle East for the second year running in 2004 and fifth best overall worldwide.
Qatar Airways’ inflight entertainment system was ranked 8th best in the world by Skytrax. The airline is currently retrofitting its A330 long-haul fleet with a new state-of-the-art Audio Video On Demand (AVOD) system for passengers travelling in First, Business and Economy Class. Qatar Airways was also the first Middle East carrier to install fully flat beds in First Class on its A330 fleet.
In October, Qatar Airways took delivery of the first of its 14 long-range A330-300s and is the only operator of the aircraft-type in the Middle East. The airline already operates the A330-200s, A300-600Rs, A321-200s, A320-200s and A319s.
During the 2003/2004 financial year, Qatar Airways carried 3.3m passengers, up 35% on the previous 12-month period. Passenger numbers are projected to rise sharply in the 2004/2005 period to 4.5m.
Doha-based Qatar Airways will operate a fleet of 110 aircraft by 2013 – almost double the existing size. Qatar Airways has ordered 80 Airbus A350s, 60 Boeing 787s and 32 Boeing 777s, with deliveries of the latter having started in November 2007. The airline is a launch customer of the twin-deck Airbus A380 ‘super jumbos’ with five aircraft on order and scheduled for delivery from 2010. Qatar Airways moves to the New Doha International Airport in 2010, when the first phase of the new facility opens. For more information, visit www.ndiaproject.com
Qatar Airways is one of only six airlines in the world with a Five Star ranking for service and excellence awarded by Skytrax, the independent aviation industry monitoring agency. Skytrax also named Qatar Airways’ cabin crew as Best in the Middle East for the fifth year running in 2007 following a survey of more than 15 million passengers worldwide. For more information, log onto www.qatarairways.com
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