Qatar Airways’ first A350 (MSN006) at the Airbus Delivery Center – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
Qatar Airways has been growing rapidly, both in terms of their fleet and their route network. I recently got to experience an example of both when I joined Qatar for their inaugural flight to Boston Logan Airport (BOS), utilizing the new Airbus A350-900 XWB. It was a pretty special trip.
After a rather disappointing first experience on Qatar when flying in from Los Angeles, I was really hoping to see Qatar’s best when departing from their home hub of Doha. Sometimes, operating from outstations with once-daily service can be very challenging.
This would be my first time flying the Airbus A350 as well – just a few days before our Editor-in-Chief David Parker Brown. I wanted to make sure to take the chance to remind him of that (thanks Blaine ^David).
Certificate given to passengers to mark the inauguration of service to Boston – Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter
Overall, my flight was great. The service was up to snuff and the food tasty. But the star of the show was the A350. Wow, what a ride. Read on!
My TAM Airlines Airbus A350 in Sao Paulo
Recently, I had the opportunity to fly on my first Airbus A350 and I was excited. It was on TAM Airlines from Miami (MIA) to Sao Paulo (GRU), which is an eight-hour flight — enough time for me to put it to the test. It was also special, because this was the first international commercial flight for the TAM A350 (when it flew to MIA).
Over two and a half days, I would fly about 14,000 miles and stay in Brazil for one night to take this flight. When I did something very similar (minus the sweet A350) back in November 2014, I thought I would never do something like it again. But when invited, there wasn’t a moment of hesitation. The ability to fly on my first A350 — on TAM? Yes please!
My flights that I took over a 2.5 day period – Image: GCMap.com
Going into it, my big question was, “is the A350 better than the Boeing 787 and/or the 777?” In the end, the answer to that question was not so easy.
The initial A350 XWB for Vietnam Airlines rolled out of Airbus’ Toulouse paint shop on 6 March 2015, displaying the airline’s updated blue and gold lotus livery
Vietnam Airlines, the government-owned national flag carrier for Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is on the cusp of its first major international expansion in over a decade.
The airline has made no secret of its desire to become the second-largest carrier in Southeast Asia by 2020, behind Singapore Airlines. With the financial near-collapses of regional competitors Thai Airways and Malaysia Airlines and the upcoming expansion of its long-haul fleet, Vietnam Airlines is poised to gain significant market share and inch closer to its goal of regional domination.
A member of the SkyTeam alliance, Vietnam currently operates a full-service schedule to 52 destinations in 17 countries, with an active fleet of 77 aircraft.
The Qatar Airways A350, simply beautiful – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
Ever since first seeing the Airbus A350 at the Singapore Airshow last year, I have had a soft spot for this aircraft. I was over the moon with excitement when the news came that I had been invited by Qatar Airways to cover the inauguration ceremony in Doha prior to its inaugural flight to Frankfurt on the 15th of January.
The aircraft had been officially handed over to Qatar Airways on the 22nd of December, 2014, in a special delivery ceremony hosted by Airbus.
A nice welcome at the press conference – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
The inauguration ceremony in Doha was accompanied by much fanfare, including a fun-filled three-day activity program for over 130 members of media from all over the world. Although there was no demonstration flight, like the event in Toulouse, it was still a very exciting and fun event to be part of.
The below photo report covers not only the official press conference and aircraft tour, but also the rather extravagant evening inauguration ceremony. This ceremony was one of the most impressive spectacles I had ever witnessed, and it was magnificently organized, right down to the choreographed light show on the aircraft. For the best viewing experience, be sure to click on each photo for the full resolution image to be displayed.