Qatar Airways’ first Airbus A380 has operated its maiden flight.
The first Qatar Airways Airbus A380 has flown from Airbus’ widebody final assembly facility at Toulouse to Airbus’ facilities at Finkenwerder airfield in Hamburg, where the aircraft will be fitted with its cabin before being painted.
Qatar Airways placed a firm order for 10 A380s and will become the eleventh airline to join the list of A380 operators when it takes delivery of its first aircraft in 2014.
In chronological order of first A380 commercial service, the others are Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Qantas, Air France, Lufthansa, Korean Air, China Southern Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways International and British Airways.
Since the superjumbo aircraft type first entered service in September 2007, 108 A380s have entered operation with 10 carriers and have accumulated over one million flight hours in more than 120,000 commercial flights.
To date 44 million passengers have flown on board an A380.
In other Qatar Airways news, the oneworld alliance has confirmed that the Doha-based airline will become a full member of oneworld with effect from Wednesday, October 30.
One of just seven carriers worldwide rated five-star by the Skytrax airline quality agency, Qatar Airways is the only one of the “Gulf Big Three” carriers slated to join any of the global airline alliances.
Qatar Airways received clearance to join oneworld after successfully completing a thorough review of its readiness, conducted by British Airways and oneworld’s central team. BA is sponsoring Qatar Airways’ entry into the alliance.
The carrier will complete its oneworld implementation program just one year after receiving its invitation to join. Qatar Airways’ forthcoming membership was announced at a press conference in the alliance’s New York home in October 2012.
Qatar Airways’ October 2013 formal joining date will make its induction into oneworld one of the fastest in the alliance’s history. Normally it takes around 18 months for any airline to be readied to enter any alliance.
The airline’s induction into oneworld will come shortly before Qatar Airways moves into its new home base, Hamad International Airport, which has been designed to strengthen Doha’s position as a premium global hub by offering an eventual capacity for 50 million passengers a year.
From its first flights on Wednesday, October 30, Qatar Airways will offer oneworld’s full range of services and benefits.
As of October 30, the 3 million members of Qatar Airways’ Privilege Club loyalty program will receive frequent-flyer privileges whenever they fly with any oneworld member airline.
Members include leading airlines from each global region: Airberlin, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines and some 30 affiliated carriers.
Oneworld frequent-flyer benefits available to Qatar Airways’ Privilege Club members include eearning and redeeming Qmiles for awards and earning Qpoints for tier status when flying with all oneworld member airlines.
Privilege Club Platinum cardholders will have Emerald status in the oneworld program. Privilege Club Gold status will be equivalent to oneworld Sapphire and Privilege Club Silver will be equivalent to oneworld Ruby.
From October 30, Privilege Club Platinum and Gold members will be able to access 550 airport lounges worldwide offered by oneworld member airlines when they fly with one of the alliance’s carriers. Qatar Airways’ First and Business Class passengers will also be able to use oneworld partner airline lounges.
Also from October 30, the 130 million members of the established oneworld airlines’ frequent-flyer programs will be able to earn and redeem awards and tier status points and receive all other oneworld benefits on Qatar Airways.
Qatar Airways is already participating in Global Explorer, the round-the-world fare offered by all oneworld members and various airlines that are not part of the alliance. When it becomes part of oneworld, Qatar Airways’ network ‒ serving 130 destinations in 70 countries across the Middle East, Europe, Africa, North and South America, Asia and Australasia ‒ will be covered by the full range of oneworld fare and sales products.
More than 20 of Qatar Airways’ destinations and five countries ‒ Ethiopia, Iran, Rwanda, Serbia and Tanzania ‒ will be new to the oneworld map.
Even more significantly, according to oneworld, Qatar Airways will substantially strengthen the alliance’s customer offering by providing superior routing alternatives across many hundreds of city pairs. For example, passengers flying between Asia and Southern Europe or between Asia and Africa will now have convenient one-stop connections not previously available within the oneworld network.