All photos by Airbus, courtesy of Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways has been showing off the customized livery of the latest addition to its fleet – the Airbus A350-900.
Qatar’s national carrier will be the first airline in the world to receive and fly the new aircraft, and it is set to take delivery of its first shipment of the extra-wide bodied planes before the end of this year.
The airline released photos of the first freshly-painted A350, showing it sitting in a hangar in Toulouse, France where Airbus is based.
The pictures piqued the interest of aviation enthusiasts and experts, who took to Twitter to share their anticipation of the roll-out of the new planes.
— Gazanfarulla Khan (@acepilotkhan) August 27, 2014
— Mario. (@mario_eb) August 28, 2014
Qatar Airways 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.
These first pictures of the newly-liveried planes mark the countdown to the delivery of the first aircraft, which Qatar Airways confirmed in a statement would be with them in the coming months.
The airline has not confirmed the specific routes the A350s will fly, but said they will deployed across its network.
Group Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker said the delivery comes as Qatar Airways was “in the midst of a massive fleet expansion program.”
He added: “We take pride in introducing the latest products and services available to the industry and this new aircraft is a prime example of that.”
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.
News of the confirmed delivery date of the first batch of planes follows extensive tests of the aircraft.
In February this year, an A350 touched down at Hamad International Airport, before it was open for commercial use.
The Doha stop was part of a world tour, in which the aircraft took in 14 cities on one route, via the North Pole.
During the 20-day tour, the A350 flew approximately 151,300km in some 180 flight hours.
It then spent two days in Doha, undergoing a number of tests.
All flights were on schedule and an Airbus official said that the aircraft had performed “remarkably well” during the testing phase.
The planes can also accommodate more passengers than the Dreamliner. The A350-900s ordered by Qatar Airways contain 315 seats, while the -1000 model can hold 369 passengers.
The cabins are expected to be roomier, with 18-inch wide seats in economy, extra headroom, wider panoramic windows and larger overhead storage spaces.
And in business and first class, Airbus has said the cabins will be 220 inches from armrest to armrest, making them five inches wider than their nearest competitor.
Separately, Qatar Airways is still waiting to receive its long-awaited Airbus A380s, which are now not expected to be delivered to the carrier until the end of the year.