Qatar Airways has announced it is upgrading part of its A350 order to the larger -1000 model, with five of the original order for A350-900s converted to the bigger example.
Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker said “Since taking delivery of the world’s first A350-1000 in February 2018, we have been extremely pleased with the aircraft’s performance, which has prompted us to update our original order,”
The Qatari flag carrier was launch customer for both A350 types, and already has 30 -900s and three -1000s in service.
The move is designed to mitigate the effect of restrictions on flights imposed by neighbouring Arab states, amid a continuing political dispute between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Bahrain since June 2017. As a result, the flag carrier cannot use their airspace and has had increased operational costs due to longer flight paths. With such restrictions in place, using higher capacity aircraft will help reduce unit costs.
Having ordered 76 in total, Qatar Airways is the biggest customer for the A350, including 42 -1000s. The A350-1000 is 23ft (7metres) longer than the -900, accommodating 44 more seats in Qatar’s preferred configuration.
To date, Airbus has received a total of 890 firm orders for the A350 XWB from 46 customers around the world.