Qatar’s national carrier will be the first airline in the world to receive and fly the new aircraft, and has expected to receive the first of extra-wide bodied planes before the end of this year.
Narrowing that timeline down, CEO Akbar Al Baker told reporters earlier this week that the airline would take delivery of the first plane between Dec. 8 and 10.
The maiden flight of the jumbo aircraft, which is expected to compete with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, comes shortly after Qatar Airways’ first A380 performed its inaugural flight to London.
Delivery of that aircraft was delayed for months over problems with the cabin interiors.
Referencing those difficulties, the CEO of Airbus reportedly called the national carrier a “demanding” customer. Speaking to reporters last week, Fabrice Bregier said, as quoted by Reuters:
“We know it will be difficult to have it accepted because they are very demanding on quality, but it’s a good start. We believe at least one aircraft will be delivered this year, but the customer has the final say.”
The A350 gained European safety approval last month, and Airbus said it is now working to get cabin furnishings ready for Qatar Airways’ first plane.
In total, the airline has ordered 80 of the A350 aircraft – 43 of the -900 model and a further 37 of the larger -1000 type.
The latter model is not due to enter service until 2017.
The airline has not confirmed the specific routes the A350s will fly, but said they will deployed across its network.
Al Baker previously told reporters that after the first A350 delivery, the airline expects to receive nine aircraft by next year, followed by one a month in 2016 and two each month in 2017.
Each A350-900 is estimated to cost around $277.7 million.