Qatar Airways today celebrated yet another historic milestone as its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner landed on home turf in Doha greeted by hundreds of cheering onlookers.
VIPs, media, airline and airport staff, together with passengers watched with excitement as Qatar Airways’ brand new state-of-the-art Dreamliner swooped into Doha International Airport marking the start of a new era in Middle East aviation.
Qatar Airways is the region’s 787 launch customer with 60 aircraft on order for delivery in phases over the next few years.
Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker, who was onboard the delivery flight, was joined by almost 100 passengers privileged to be on the maiden 13-hour journey direct from Seattle, the US west coast home of American aircraft manufacturer Boeing. Those onboard included international media, senior management from Qatar Airways and Boeing, as well as third party suppliers from companies involved in the 787 project.
The 787 will spend a few days positioned at Doha International Airport giving staff an opportunity to tour the aircraft before it enters commercial service for a few weeks on selected Doha – Dubai flights from November 20 and then deployed long-haul on one of the five daily London Heathrow services.
Seats on the 787 Doha – Dubai flights are now bookable online at qatarairways.com, through any Qatar Airways reservation office or local travel agent.
As more 787s join the fleet over the next few weeks, the aircraft will be inducted on other long-haul routes including Zurich, Frankfurt and Delhi.
Upon arrival in Doha, Al Baker hosted a press conference at which he spoke of his pride and joy on behalf of Qatar Airways of the world’s most advanced passenger aircraft joining the airline’s rapidly growing fleet that now totals 112 jetliners.
“This truly is an historic moment for our country, our people and our airline and on behalf of Qatar Airways, a great privilege to be standing here having flown our newest aircraft,” he said.
Al Baker credited the development of Qatar Airways into the world’s best airline to the vision of The Emir of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and outlined the role the new 787s would play in the fulfillment of that vision:
“Through the inspired vision of our country’s leader The Emir, Qatar Airways has rapidly evolved into a world-class international airline that has set new standards in service and excellence mirroring the country’s ambitions, aggressive growth and rapid development.
“The 787s are next generation aircraft that allow us to maximise long-haul route opportunities with greater fuel and cost efficiency and, importantly offer our passengers a different travel experience with new levels of space and comfort.”
Added Al Baker: “For the men and women at Qatar Airways who have been part of this wonderful 787 project, this is a moment to cherish, having devoted their energy to make today the historic moment it is, and recognising this wonderful engineering masterpiece.
“I am delighted that tickets on our 787 flights are now bookable on selected commercial services between Doha and Dubai, as it flies short sectors to familiarise our crew with the aircraft.
Boeing Commercial Vice-President International Sales Middle East, Marty Bentrott, said: “Boeing and Qatar Airways once again demonstrate a close working partnership between the two companies that is clearly reflected in the 787 programme.
“This aircraft has already shifted the goalposts in the industry in terms of comfort and operating efficiency and I am delighted to see Qatar Airways will continue to live up to its high service standards with their new 787s and continue to be an industry leader promoting excellence in everything it does.”
A Boeing customer since 2007 with 31 triple seven passenger and cargo aircraft in its fleet, Qatar Airways has now added its first 787 that features specially designed interiors, spacious cabins, custom-made seats and the latest inflight technology across its Business and Economy Class. Furthermore, Qatar Airways’ Dreamliners are also the world’s first fully connected 787s with wireless facilities for passengers to remain in touch with their friends and loved ones on the ground.
The new aircraft has 254 seats in a two-class layout of 22 seats in Business Class in a 1–2–1 configuration, turning into flat beds with plenty of space to work, sleep, eat or relax. In Economy Class, there are 232 seats in a 3–3–3 spacious layout.
A striking feature of every seat throughout the aircraft is the award-winning touch screen Android system, where passengers are able to navigate through a truly interactive service offering more than 1,000 movie, TV programmes, music and gaming entertainment options in a sophisticated and user friendly way, just like the latest smart phones.
The touch-screen control unit has a unique dual screen interface allowing passengers to play games on their handheld device while enjoying a movie on their personal screen. Passengers are also able to be fully connected through WIFI and GSM telephony, sending both text and MMS messages, with each seat equipped with USB, MP3 and other charger ports, including laptop power outlets.
The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner is also complemented with a recently-introduced new inflight culinary menu being rolled out across all services. Four award-winning culinary ambassadors –Chef Ramzi Chwayri, Chef Vineet Bhatia, Chef Tom Aitkens and Chef Nobu Matsushisa – have joined forces with the Doha-based airline to create a new range of signature dishes.
In addition, dynamic mood lighting and the composite design of the Dreamliner with lighter materials will ensure passengers are less fatigued and more refreshed as the cabin pressure is 2,000 feet closer to ground level with an air purification system that is cleaner and healthier than many other aircraft.
One of the world’s fastest growing airlines, Qatar Airways has seen rapid growth in just 15 years of operations, currently flying a modern fleet of 112 aircraft to 120 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.
Since the beginning of 2012, Qatar Airways has launched flights to 10 new destinations – Baku (Azerbaijan); Tbilisi (Georgia); Kigali (Rwanda); Zagreb (Croatia), Erbil (Iraq), Baghdad (Iraq), Perth (Australia), Kilimanjaro (Tanzania); Yangon (Myanmar) and Maputo (Mozambique).
Over the next few months, Qatar Airways will launch services to a diverse portfolio of new routes, including Belgrade, Serbia (November 20); Warsaw, Poland (December 5), Gassim, Saudi Arabia (7 January 2013); Najaf, Iraq (January 23); Phnom Penh, Cambodia (February 20); Chicago, USA (April 10); and Salalah, Oman (May 22).