Qatar Airways’ Strange A350 Delivery Flights

Filed Under: Qatar

Qatar Airways took delivery of three new Airbus A350-1000s yesterday, but that’s not even the interesting part of the story…

Qatar Airways takes delivery of three A350-1000s

Let’s start with the actual news, at least for non-avgeeks. Yesterday Qatar Airways took delivery of three Airbus A350-1000s. With this, Qatar Airways’ A350 fleet (including both the -900 and -1000) consists of 52 aircraft.

Qsuites on the Qatar Airways A350-1000

The A350 is becoming the backbone of Qatar Airways’ fleet, and there’s a lot to love about it — the A350 is quiet, fuel efficient, and long range, and the new delivery aircraft all feature Qsuites.

Presumably Qatar Airways didn’t actually want to take delivery of these planes, but they had been ordered before the pandemic, so this was likely the only option. Airlines are no doubt trying to defer aircraft orders as much as possible, but that only goes so far.

These are the first A350s that Qatar Airways has taken delivery of since February 27, 2020, which was nearly eight month ago.

Look at those delivery flights paths!

The three new A350s have the registration codes A7-ANO, A7-ANQ, and A7-ANR. The planes had to be flown from Toulouse, France, to Doha, Qatar, but they didn’t take the route you’d expect.

Instead of flying fairly direct from France to Qatar, all three planes first flew north to the United Kingdom, before eventually flying east and then southeast towards Doha.

The route Qatar Airways delivery flights took to Doha

Why would all of these planes have such strange flight paths? Aviation24 reports that these planes were acquired through an aircraft leasing company, and the contract was structured in such a way that the planes had to be present in United Kingdom airspace for at least some amount of time before being delivered, over a technicality.

So that’s why the planes spent some number of minutes in UK airspace, before continuing their usual journeys. The flight time for each of the three flights ended up being just under seven hours.

Speaking of Qatar Airways deliveries…

Qatar Airways arguably had a much more interesting aircraft delivery situation in late 2019:

So Qatar Airways’ 787-9 fleet has collectively operated 14 long haul flights, yet the seven planes are now less than 1,000 miles from where they were manufactured.

Qatar Airways took delivery of seven 787-9s in late 2019

Bottom line

Qatar Airways has taken delivery of three new A350-1000s, which represent the first new A350 deliveries at the airline in nearly eight months. Personally what I find most interesting here is the path that these planes took to get to Doha, as they flew over UK airspace.

This was apparently due to a necessary paperwork technicality since these planes are leased, though you sure can’t help but think that there should be a better way…

Comments
  1. You’ve got similar things in shipping too. Build a vessel in country X, sail to a neighbouring country and sail back. This is for tax purposes (VAT refund I believe). Believe there is also a restriction on sailing between Taiwan and mainland ports, and this is solved by “calling” a certain island outside Taiwan’s territorial waters.

  2. This has been covered so many times on FlightRadar24’s blog, and was on their Twitter feed post that uses effectively the same screenshot as yours, I’m surprised this can even be passed off as news …

    I suppose it is quiet times.

  3. Given that Qatar threatened to stop doing business with any company that forced it to take delivery of aircraft it didn’t want, Airbus and Qatar clearly came to a meeting of the minds.

  4. Some of us don’t read FlightRadar24’s blog, so it is news to us. Maybe you should stick with FlightRadar24 and not waste your time with Ben’s blog.

    Cheers!

  5. @Ben
    You probably know the A380 forum “a380.boards.net” (which doesn’t exclusively focus on the A380 but also on many other aircraft types from Airbus and even Boeing and others).
    The topic of delivery flights from Airbus facilities (Toulouse as well as Hamburg) entering british (or in other cases swiss) airspace due to “contractural reasons” has been discussed on that forum on several occasions, regarding deliveries to Qatar Airways, TAP Portugal, Asiana and others). I don’t remember if there ever was anyone able to give a comprehensive explanation, but you might find some answers there.

  6. In the future, these planes will have to quarantine for 14 days in British airspace before they can proceed to Qatar.

  7. 52 A350s?!

    This is hard to fathom when you review the fleets of the very large international airlines in US, Europe, and East Asia.

    Is it normal to take on this many large wide bodies in such a short time? 52 seems like a number that would be achieved over a decade or more.

    Is P&L not a thing at Qatar?

  8. Have to say love Qatar and I hope these new ones do all the Australian airports as flying 14 hours has to be profitable both ways. Pre the China Flue the planes were full both ways . Gotta love an airline being inventive and welcoming. See you soon Doha. Hopefully Joe B supports them and welcomes them into as many US ports as possible when he becomes your President to keep the US Airlines on their toes.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *