Qatar Airways Is Supersizing Its Airbus Order as a Political Dispute Makes It Fly Longer Routes

October 1, 2018, 11:37 AM UTC

Airbus (EADSY) will be delivering more extra-large A350 airliners to Qatar Airways, after the carrier changed its order.

Qatar Airways was the first carrier to fly the A350-900 when it was launched a few years ago, and the first to fly the larger A350-1000 earlier this year. Now, with three of the larger plane in its fleet, it has asked for five more A350-1000s in place of five A350-900s that were on order.

“Since taking delivery of the world’s first A350-1000 in February 2018, we have been extremely pleased with the aircraft’s performance, which has prompted us to update our original order,” said Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker. “The A350-1000 has been a welcome addition to our fleet and very well received by our passengers who enjoy the unprecedented levels of comfort and technology that this new generation aircraft offers.”

The A350-1000 is 23 feet longer than the A350-900, and it offers 28% more capacity in the Premium class cabin. Crucially, the newer model also uses Rolls-Royce’s new Trent XWP-97 engines, which is supposed to offer unprecedented fuel efficiency.

That fuel efficiency could come in handy for Qatar Airways, which is being forced to fly longer routes due to a regional political dispute. Because Qatar is currently a pariah among neighbors including Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, its state airline cannot use those countries’ airspace.

“We are pleased the A350-1000 delivers to [Qatar Airways’] expectations, being the aircraft of choice to seamlessly increase capacity in unprecedented comfort on its growing long-haul routes,” said Airbus commercial aircraft chief Guillaume Faury.