Qatar Airways will soon take the reins of the world's first Airbus A350, with its inaugural flight planned between Doha and Frankfurt in January 2015 before the route later goes 'all-A350' for the airline.
Taking over from Qatar's already-new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, QR67 to Frankfurt and QR68 on the return will be the first commercial flights to take on Airbus' latest bird.
Although the airline hasn't flagged a specific launch date in January, Qatar's other Doha-Frankfurt return flight – QR69/QR70 – will also score the A350 "shortly" after making its initial debut on the route.
Speaking at a press conference at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, Qatar's CEO Akbar Al Baker told Australian Business Traveller in May that Perth's current daily Boeing 777 service to Doha would also be upgraded to the new Airbus A350 "in early 2015, I hope."
Al Baker said that Perth was chosen both for being an "ultra long-haul route" from Qatar's Doha hub as well as for its importance as Australia's "mineral resources capital."
"Perth will not be the launch route for the A350 but it will be one of the first ultra long-haul routes that we will operate" he added.
Connecting to Frankfurt from Melbourne, Perth
Regardless of the launch timeline, Qatar's flights from both Melbourne and Perth connect perfectly with QR67 from Doha to Frankfurt.
QR901 from Perth touches down in Doha at 5:05am, while QR905 from Melbourne reaches the gate at a similar 6:20am – just in time for a quick transit to QR67 ahead of a 7:35am departure, with a 12:30pm arrival into Frankfurt that afternoon.
On the return to Doha, passengers on QR68 leave the German financial hub at 3:25pm, landing in Doha at 11:25pm.
That gives the Victorian-bound 1hr 35m to make their connection to QR904, while Perth passengers have an extra hour up their sleeves until QR900's 1:50am departure.
Qatar's other Frankfurt flights aren't ideal for Aussie travellers unless planning a stopover in Doha, with QR69 wheels-up in the Qatari capital at 2am – hours before the Australian flights reach Doha – for a 6:55am landing on the same calendar day.
With a 10:45am departure and reaching the Doha hub at 6:40pm that evening, QR70 connects with both QR900 and QR904 to Australia, although with transit times of between six and seven hours, QR68 is a better fit from Frankfurt.
On board Qatar's Airbus A350
A total of 283 passengers can fit comfortably on board Qatar's A350, split across 36 seats in business class and 247 down the back in economy.
With the debut of Qatar's 'revolutionary business class' currently planned for 2016, we'd expect to see a similar business class cabin on the A350 to the airline's current Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet:
From its Doha hub, passengers can connect onwards to 144 business and leisure destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.
Qatar has a total of 80 A350s on its order books, with the first eight expected to be flying in Qatar colours by the end of 2015 to destinations beyond Frankfurt and Perth.
The airline's A350 network plans follow the delivery of Qatar's first Airbus A380 last month and the launch of superjumbo flights between Doha and London Heathrow.
More on Qatar Airways and the Airbus A350:
- Review, photos: The very first Airbus A350 'public passenger' flight
- Virgin Australia pushes back on Airbus A350, Boeing 787 decision
- Qantas frequent flyer points: what you'll earn on Qatar Airways
- Cathay Pacific takes Airbus A350 test flight
- Photos: Qatar's new Al Mourjan Business Lounge in Doha
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