Delta Air Lines Airbus A330 with a KLM Boeing 747-400 in the background in Amsterdam.

Delta Air Lines Airbus A330, with a KLM Boeing 747-400 in the background, in Amsterdam – Photo: David Parker Brown

At the start of last year, we looked at the results of the 2013 deliveries between Airbus and Boeing.  With all the interest in that article, I couldn’t leave it alone for 2014, right?  So let’s take a look at how the two big airliner companies did, in what is really the biggest aviation competition around?

2014 was a big year for both Boeing and Airbus.  Last year we saw the first delivery of the A350XWB for Airbus, while Boeing also had delivery of the first 787-9 to Air New Zealand (followed closely by ANA).

On the narrowbody front, the A320NEO had its first flight (don’t those engines look like someone strapped giant engines onto the wing and went “it will work, trust me”) and the 737 MAX makes it one step closer to rolling out of the Renton factory.  There were plenty of orders made to both airliners, but what we really want to know is, who produced and sold the most aircraft?

Qatar Airways A340-600 at LHR Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Qatar Airways’ A340-600 at LHR – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

QATAR AIRWAYS A340-600 ECONOMY CLASS FLIGHT REVIEW BASICS:

Airline: Qatar Airways
Aircraft: Airbus A340-600
Departed: Dubai (DXB)
Arrived: Doha (DOH)
Stops: Non-stop flight
Class: Economy Class
Seat: 38A
Length: About 1 hour

On a recent trip to the Middle East, I had to take a flight from Dubai (DXB) to Doha (DOH). While the flight distance is only around 235 miles, with flight times rarely more than one hour, there is a surprisingly large selection of flight options. These range from low-cost carriers such as Fly Dubai right through to the full service options of Emirates and Qatar Airways.

As I had never flown Qatar Airways before, I thought I would give them a go, especially given all the hype about them being a five-star airline. Qatar runs many flights per day between the two cities, and they pretty much utilize their entire fleet on the route from A319/A320s right through to Boeing 777-300ERs. The type that excited me the most, however, was the Airbus A340-600, a type normally used more for ultra-long-haul 14+ hour flights rather than hot hops across the Arabian Gulf.

Economy class on the A340-600, the colour takes some getting used to Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Economy class on the A340-600; the color takes some getting used to – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

I arrived at Dubai Airport Terminal One a little over two hours prior to departure. Having now experienced all three passenger terminals at Dubai Airport, I must say T1 is the worst by far. While the terminal is functional, the demand for the terminal far outweighs its capacity. It took me one hour, yes one hour, to get from the check-in desks to my departure gate. Most of this time was spent waiting in the line for outbound immigration. It was not that there were not enough desks open – in fact they were all open – but there were just too many passengers to process at the time.

A Jabiru J-230D - Photo: Owen Zupp

A Jabiru J-230D – Photo: Owen Zupp

Things weren’t looking good.

The next morning I was scheduled to depart Essendon and reenact the historic air mail flight undertaken by Maurice Guillaux in 1914. As I sat in my air-conditioned hotel room I logged onto the digital service, only to find that the weather forecast seemed endless with ‘clouds on the ground’ at critical locations and line after line of low clouds and heavy rain. I flicked the pages on my iPad between the weather radars for Mount Gambier and Melbourne, endeavouring to get a clearer picture of the waves of water blowing in from the southwest.

Was there a possible route out of Melbourne to the west with lower hills and a higher cloud base? I entered in alternate flight plans on the iPad app and compared how much extra time such a plan would cost, and then converted that into fuel; there were viable options available. Still, the best news came from the MSL synoptic charts on the Bureau of Meteorology website. Maybe, just maybe, there will be a window of opportunity between the two deep cold fronts that threatened to ruin the centenary air mail flight.

And then I paused…

I had a world of information at my fingertips, mobile phones and mass media. 100 years ago, Guillaux had none of this and yet he set out from Melbourne bound for Sydney in his Bleriot monoplane; exposed to the elements and a simple railway line as his navigation system. On board were 1785 commemorative postcards and Australia’s first air freight – orange juice and tea. His weather forecast was his line of sight through the spinning propeller. I had it easy.

Guillaux and his Bleriot XI monoplane after the Melbourne-Sydney flight in 1914 - Photo:  State Library of New South Wales | WikiCommons

Guillaux and his Bleriot XI monoplane after the Melbourne-Sydney flight in 1914 – Photo: State Library of New South Wales | WikiCommons

It became even easier when the rain on the roof abated and breaks of blue sky appeared over Melbourne. By the time the many media commitments had been met and departure time loomed, things looked positively hopeful. Furthermore, each stage of the flight would have aircraft flying in company with my Jabiru J230D ‘air mail’ aircraft. Veteran pilot, Aminta Hennessy, in her Cessna 182 was the support aircraft and offered an IFR alternative should the weather close in. For this stage she would be joined by a CT-4 and a Cessna 172 and all three would depart for me, offering some ‘eyes in the sky’. As it transpired, as I climbed overhead Essendon, I could see for 100 miles and any reservations that I’d held melted away. The centenary air mail flight was underway.

Very Different Times.

A Delta pilot makes his way to one of the new gates as Delta Air Lines, unveiled the next phase of a Terminal 4 expansion at JFK - Photo: Michelle McLoughlin | Newscast Creative

Delta Air Lines unveils the next phase of a Terminal 4 expansion at JFK – Photo: Michelle McLoughlin | Newscast Creative

As part of their $1.2 billion effort at improving their space at John F. Kennedy International Airport’s (JFK) Terminal 4B, Delta, along with the JFK International Air Terminal LLC (JFKIAT) has completed the second phase of expansion of the terminal and held a media event to show off and officially open the new space (a soft opening occurred last week).

BONUS: Delta Previews JFK T4 With T4X In Lower Manhattan

In attendance, and speaking on behalf of their organizations, were Gail Grimmett, Delta’s senior vice president for New York; Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ); Gert-Jan de Graff, president and CEO of JFKIAT (the operator of Terminal 4); Kyle Kimball, president of the NYC Economic Development Corporation; Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company; and Melinda Katz, the Queens borough president.

Press entrance for the special Terminal 4 event - Photo:

Press entrance for the special Terminal 4 event – Photo: Doug Wint

The expansion adds 75,000 additional square feet and 11 new gates to Terminal 4B, and will allow 80% of Delta Connection operations to move from Terminal 2. These new gates are enclosed and climate-controlled, and can handle mainline narrow-body jets, if needed. The new addition provides access to a renovated Sky Club, iPad stations, and world-renown eateries.

The carrier has also added a third stop to its Jitney shuttle service, which carries connecting passengers between its two terminals to the new terminus on the B side. This is to help alleviate the walking for connecting travellers (65% of Delta’s JFK passengers) between opposite ends of Terminal 4B.