HIA - Thinking Big: Qatar Airways’ A380
Written by Oryx
On October 10, Qatar Airways’ first Airbus A380 commenced commercial service on the Doha–London–Doha route, marking yet another important milestone for the world’s 5-star airline.
This flight marked the beginning of a new chapter for Qatar Airways, as it pushes boundaries and expands its operations. The A380, with its unique combination of increased capacity, long-haul range, unbeatable fuel efficiency, and an unprecedented low noise level (making it the quietest airliner in the skies) will enable the airline to carry its passengers even further while redefining the luxury and comfort standards to which they have become accustomed.
“As we are continuously reviewing our passenger offering to always provide the very best in class, for us the arrival of the A380 opens a new chapter in the unparalleled, signature, five-star service we provide to travellers on board Qatar Airways,” said the Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr Akbar Al Baker.
As Qatar Airways continues to enhance its fleet and provide five-star service to its customers, a constant challenge is to bring new and exciting offerings on board at the same level of quality the airline’s passengers have come to expect since its inception.
As one of the world’s foremost airlines, it is entirely appropriate that Qatar Airways has enhanced its ultra-modern fleet with an aeroplane that has already set a new milestone in aviation history. Ranking in importance with the legendary Douglas DC-3, De Havilland Comet, and Boeing's 707 and 747, the Airbus A380 first appeared on a drawing board with the tentative project name ‘A3XX’. It was initially mooted to challenge the Airbus company’s major rival’s monopoly in the large-airliner market, and to cope with projected increasing airline passenger demand.
Equally significantly, the ‘A3XX’ was envisaged as a logical extension of Airbus’s successful range of ‘fly-by-wire’ aeroplanes starting with the A320 and derivatives comprising the A319 and A321, and continuing with the larger A330 and A340 – all of which are operated by Qatar Airways. Today, with 142 A380s delivered to 12 airlines around the world, what started out as the ‘A3XX’ has fulfilled its promise as the 21st-century airliner with the ‘Double-X Factor’.
In Qatar Airways' service, the A380’s two-deck configuration provides unmatched spaciousness for passengers, and nowhere is this more visible than in First Class, where eight fully lie-flat seats with a 90-inch pitch reside along with expansive entertainment options on personal 26-inch video screens. The First Class cabin features ultra-wide seats tailored in the softest fabric, with signature design elements such as retractable dividers that expand the space and offer the option of Ottoman-style dining when travelling with a companion. Comforts to passengers include Missoni sleeper suits, flight slippers, and the finest amenities from Giorgio Armani Fragrances & Beauty to add those extra luxurious touches. First Class guests also enjoy a large changing room that includes complimentary beauty products from Rituals.
A stylish lounge area is available for First Class and Business Class passengers, within which passengers may enjoy a range of canapés and other delicious snacks beneath soft light cast by stunning, contemporary Arabian-inspired chandeliers – all while relaxing on one of the aircraft’s settees finished in exquisite European leather.
As Skytrax’s Best Business Class Award winner for the past two years, Qatar Airways has a lofty standard to uphold on board the Airbus A380. But the high specifications of the new aircraft will more than live up to this benchmark with its 1-2-1 configuration providing direct access to the aisle so that every Business Class seat is an aisle seat; fully lie-flat seats that make that pre-meeting rest the most rejuvenating possible; and full connectivity via Wi-Fi and SMS, as well as power at every seat for laptops and personal devices.
The airline’s First and Business Class guests can enjoy an on-demand à la carte menu, which means they can select a full meal or snack from an extensive range of options. A signature caviar service and delicious Ladurée desserts also offer a tantalising culinary experience.
Comfort is paramount for Qatar Airways’ Economy Class passengers as well, of course. There are higher ceilings on the main deck, and a meticulously streamlined, wider-than-average seat design offers more legroom, a greater angle of recline, and contoured headrests. The airline’s next-generation in-flight entertainment system also delivers one of the world’s highest resolutions of any Economy Class system on its 10.6-inch touchscreens.
But much of the brilliance of the A380 is in the details that you won’t see, touch, or taste on your journey.
For example, the A380 offers unmatched fuel efficiency, burning 22% less fuel per seat than its predecessor as the world’s largest passenger aircraft, which will allow Qatar Airways to increase capacity proportionally at no overall extra cost while substantially reducing its environmental footprint in terms of carbon dioxide emissions.
Yet performance does not suffer. The A380 has a greater range, requires 17% less runway to take off and uses 11% less runway to land, and has a 4,000ft higher initial cruise altitude capability than its main competitor.
The A380 also delivers on reduced noise, documented by multiple airport noise-monitoring reports as being the quietest long-haul aircraft in the world.
Key to Qatar Airways’ welcoming of the A380 to its fleet is Hamad International Airport itself, which was custom-built to accommodate the Airbus ‘super jumbo’ with double-deck loading bridges initially at five of its 41 loading gates. The bridges offer an unrivalled experience for passengers, especially for First and Business Class guests who can board and disembark an A380 directly from their lounge area, expediting the process and making it easier for those with connecting flights – a capability that is exclusive to the A380. And finally, from an engineering viewpoint, there is also Hamad International Airport’s specially designed maintenance hangar – the world’s largest, which can accommodate two A380s simultaneously.
“We are very pleased to welcome Qatar Airways as the latest airline to offer unprecedented A380 services to the world. The multi-award-winning carrier and our flagship product are a perfect match to excite the flying public in all markets,” said Fabrice Brégier, Airbus president and CEO. “Qatar Airways aims for the best, and we are proud our A380 is an essential ingredient in their strategy to showcase their excellence and hospitality, connecting the world.&rdquo