Qatar’s national carrier appears to have delayed its inaugural A380 flight by at least two weeks, according to its latest route update.
Qatar Airways is slated to get three of its order of 13 A380s – the world’s largest passenger aircraft – this summer. It had scheduled the first route to be from Doha to to London’s Heathrow Airport on June 17, but that has now been pushed back to July 1.
The airline has so far not made any public announcements about the delay. A spokesman told Doha News yesterday that airline has “no new update to offer” on the planned launch flight.
Passengers also do not appear to have been notified of the change of aircraft. A Boeing 777 is expected to operate the flight on June 17 instead.
Travel consultant and blogger Ben Schlappig writes that he has not been told that his booking in First Class on the inaugural flight will need to be re-booked, despite the fact that the airline has no First Class cabin on its 777 fleet.
Qatar Airways formally announced the “highly anticipated arrival” of its first three A380s in a statement at the end of April, in which it also set the June 17 date for the aircraft’s debut to London Heathrow.
The delivery of these super-jumbos is more than six months late, due to the delayed launch of Hamad International Airport, which finally opened its doors to all airlines, including Qatar Airways, this week.
The airport has six specially designed, double-decker gates for the A380, as well as an aircraft maintenance hangar that can hold two of the huge aircraft at once.
The airline has also announced that the A380’s second destination will be Paris – the launch date for which remains unchanged at July 3.
And earlier this week, the airline’s CEO Akbar Al Baker told Doha News that the A380 would also fly the Doha-New York route.
However, the airline has been unable to clarify whether the aircraft will replace the current Boeing 777 on the route, or whether the addition of the A380 will signal the beginning of twice-daily operations to the city. No launch date for the new service has been announced so far.
When the A380 does enter service, the aircraft is expected to take over flight numbers QR003 and QR004, which leave Doha at 7:55am, and return from London at 3:05pm, respectively.
Qatar Airways’ A380 will have 517 seats in all – 457 in economy, 52 in business and eight in first class.
Its first and business class cabins – and a special lounge area for premium passengers – will both be located on the aircraft’s upper deck, with economy seating being split between both floors of the aircraft.
Were you set to fly on the A380 soon after launch? Thoughts?