- The Airbus A350-1000 entered service earlier this year with Qatar Airways.
- It’s the latest in a new generation of fuel-efficient, carbon composite airliners to launch in recent years.
- The A350-1000 is seen as a rival for Boeing 777-300ER and a replacement for the Boeing 747 jumbo jet.
The Airbus A350-1000 entered service with Qatar Airways in February. It is the latest in a new generation of the fuel-efficient, carbon-composite, wide-body airliners to launch in recent years.
With four-engine jumbo jets like the Boeing 747 and the Airbus A380 quickly losing favor with airlines, smaller, more efficient twin-engine widebodies have taken their place as the industry’s workhorse long-haul jets. In fact, Virgin Atlantic is expected to replace its 747-400s with a fleet of A350-1000s over the next few years.
Thus far, the Boeing 777 is the most successful of the twin-engine wide-bodies with 1,988 sold since its debut in 1994. Launched in 2002, the Boeing 777-300ER is, by far, the most popular version of the twin-jet and accounts for about 42% of the plane’s sales total.
Airbus has 890 orders for the A350; 168 of which are for the Dash 1000.
Until the A350-1000’s arrival, Airbus didn’t really have a true rival for the 777-300ER. The A330-300 had the size, but not quite the range while the quad-engine A340-600 had the range and the capacity, but was far less efficient.
In fact, Qatar is actually operating the A350-1000 alongside its existing fleet of 777-300ERs.
“The A350-1000 is performing very well in our fleet,” Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker said to a roundtable of reporters at the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow in July. “Actually, it’s performing better than what we envisaged.”
According to Airbus, the A350 is capable of delivering 25% better fuel efficiency and a 25% unit costs compared to previous generation aircraft like the 777.
“Yes, they are right,” Al Baker said regarding Airbus’s efficiency claims. “And this is why Boeing has launched the 777X to compete against the fuel efficiency of the Airbus A350-1000.”
Qatar Airways also has orders in place for 60 of Boeing next-generation 777X airliners that are expected to enter service in 2020.
The Doha, Qatar-based airline was also the launch customer of the smaller A350-900 back in 2014.
At the Farnborough Air Show, Airbus brought along an A350-1000 prototype for flight demonstrations while Qatar Airways showed off one of its Dash 1000s for guests and journalists.