The FINANCIAL — Qatar Airways has achieved yet another milestone in its short history by taking delivery of its first Boeing 777-200 Long Range aircraft.
The aircraft – Qatar Airways’ sixth Boeing 777 – made its maiden journey from Boeing’s manufacturing base in Seattle in just under 15 hours for the non-stop flight to Doha International Airport. The latest delivery takes Qatar Airways’ fleet size to 66 aircraft, a remarkable number in only the airline’s 12th year of operation.
"On arrival, the Boeing 777-200LR and its international crew and technical staff onboard were welcomed by scores of cheering employees from Qatar Airways and its subsidiaries. The flight was manned by four pilots, two cabin crew and an engineer – all from different parts of the world." Qatar Airways reports.
“I am extremely delighted and proud as a Qatari to have flown this wonderful aircraft on its faultless journey all the way from Seattle to Doha,” said Captain Amin Qush, Qatar Airways’ Boeing 777 training pilot.
“I have been privileged to have flown a number of delivery aircraft over the years, but this Boeing 777-200LR was something different, its performance and the performance of the engine was exceptional as we cruised to an altitude of 41,000 feet for more than 14 hours.”
Captain Qush was joined on the flight by fellow Captain, Hameed Al Alawi from Bahrain and First Officers Anthony Pantin, who hails from Trinidad and Tobago, and Dutch national Jan Jonkman.
American cabin crew Natasha Betita, Australian national Fawaz Melder and test engineer Raed Ayoub, from Jordan, made up the truly international crew for the special flight, which also included several operational staff onboard for the journey which took 14 hours and 45 minutes.
Added Ibrahim Al Jassim, Qatar Airways’ Manager Aircraft Delivery: “Our first Boeing 777-200LR was a perfect delivery, on schedule after all the operational tests and acceptance certificate granted. It’s a great feeling to see the newest plane in Qatar Airways’ colours on home soil.”
The Boeing 777-200LR has a range of up to 17 hours and is capable of flying to virtually any key business or leisure destination worldwide from Qatar Airways’ Doha hub non-stop. The Doha – Houston route, linking the energy capitals of the world, will be Qatar Airways’ first long-haul service to be operated with the Boeing 777-200LR aircraft with its launch scheduled for March 30.
The Houston route will also be one of the world’s longest non-stop flights. Until the Houston launch, the aircraft will be deployed on routes in the Middle East and South Asia to allow crew to get more accustomed to the aircraft.
In November 2007, Qatar Airways placed orders for 32 Boeing 777 passenger and cargo aircraft, comprising 14 of the 777-300ER variant, six 777-200LRs and seven 777-200 Freighters. There are options for a further five Boeing 777s.
With six Boeing 777s currently flying in Qatar Airways’ colours, the remaining 26 will be delivered within two years and the aircraft will form the backbone of the airline’s long-haul fleet of the future. The two Boeing 777 passenger variants will facilitate a major expansion in the airline’s long haul network.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said: “Qatar Airways truly is an international airline and this was reflected by the flight operating crew who brought our newest Boeing 777 to Doha to mark yet another milestone in our history, being the longest flying aircraft in our fleet.
“With a flying range of up to 17 hours non-stop, this aircraft will offer passengers ultimate levels of comfort and service to ultra long-haul destinations direct from Doha. The aircraft also features unrivalled facilities, which will certainly provide our competitors with something to think about.”
The Boeing 777-200LR features 259 seats – 42 in Business Class and 217 in Economy.
Business Class passengers are able to enjoy comfortable and spacious seats offering a pitch of up to 78 inches with each seat converting into 180-degree fully flat beds. With a 2–2–2 seating configuration, Business Class passengers are assured of either a window or aisle seat and plenty of space.
In Economy Class, seat space is above the industry average with a pitch of up to 34 inches offering significant leg room, while the 217 seats in a 3–3–3 configuration are the most spacious of any airline flying to Houston.
Offering a superb experience in all class categories, Qatar Airways is renowned for its internationally acclaimed Five Star service, superior cuisine and on-board entertainment options, additionally earning the credit of being the first Middle East carrier to provide fully flat beds in business class to Houston.
Regardless of class of travel, passengers can enjoy the next generation interactive onboard entertainment system with a choice of more than 700 audio and video on demand options. From music, documentaries, movies, sport, comedy, children’s programmes and interactive games, passengers are rest assured of a great choice of entertainment through the airline’s Oryx Entertainment system. Both Business and Economy class cabins offer in-seat PC power supply.
Added Al Baker: “The Boeing 777s offer the greatest levels of space and comfort across our long-haul fleet. With a 78-inch Business Class pitch, our 42 premium seats are undoubtedly the best in the region. And our 217 seats in Economy offer the greatest levels of comfort in this cabin than any other airline in the region.”
Qatar Airways currently operates a modern fleet of 66 Airbus and Boeing aircraft to 83 key business and leisure cities across Europe, Middle East, Africa, South Asia, Far East and North America.