Upping the ante up in the air
Qatar Airways announced last month that it will increase its capacity across Europe in the new year. From February, Barcelona and Manchester will have two flights a day from Doha and services to Stockholm and Copenhagen will increase from daily to 10 and 11 weekly flights, respectively.
From Perth, my Qatar Airways flight is scheduled to take 11 hours and 25 minutes to fly to Hamad International Airport in Doha (though it actually takes nearly an hour less) but today I have a comfortable transfer window to the seven hours and 10 minute flight on to London Heathrow.
And this most popular of routes combines flights on the Boeing 777-300ER between Perth and Doha with a new Airbus A380 between Doha and London.
Qatar Airways took delivery of its first A380 on September 16 and it started flying between Doha and London Heathrow on October 10 (followed by another, on the Paris route).
Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker says: “The A380 that we have introduced is not just any A380. We have completely designed every element, giving it a signature touch that has never been seen before on board. Additionally, the newly opened Hamad International Airport, the airline’s hub in Doha, has been specifically created with the A380 in mind, with five contact gates dedicated only for this aircraft, making the experience smooth and effortless for passengers.”
Qatar’s A380 has 461 economy-class seats and 48 in business class. In business class, these are in a “herringbone” layout, with the seats angled — one at either side of the plane and two in the middle.
Add to that the lounge, which is open throughout the flight, with sofas and small tables, a bar and plenty of standing room. There’s no longer a need to sit in one seat for a whole flight.
But perhaps most obvious about this double-decker aircraft is its quietness. The techniques used to make it so also mean higher levels of humidity are possible.
Things you might not know about the two aircraft . . .
•The first 777 came into service was 1995 and since then 777s have flown some five million flights and clocked up over more than 18 million hours.
•There are three million parts in a 777 and they come from more than 900 suppliers.
•There is approximately 4600cum of volume in a 777-300.
•A 777 with a light load can accelerate from 0-100km/h in less than six seconds.
•The data shared and transferred during the 777s initial design amounted to 1,847,930,000,000 bytes of production data.
•Qatar’s 777-300ER has 335 seats — 42 business-class seats with a seat pitch of 198cm, and 293 economy- class seats with a seat pitch of 84cm (“seat pitch” is the distance from any point on one seat to exactly the same point on the seat in front or behind it). Some airlines’ 777-300ERs are configured with up to 385 economy- class seats.
•The A380 is nearly 73m long, 80m wide (including the wings, obviously), 24m high and weighs 560 tonnes.
•The Qatar Airways A380 has 517 seats, with eight in first class, 48 in business and 461 in economy.
•It can carry about 3000 suitcases.
•An A380 has 4 million individual components, produced by 1500 companies, in 30 different countries. The wings and engines are made in England, tail and fuselage in Spain and Germany, then all are freighted to France for assembly.
•About 8000 bolts are used to join the three main parts of the aircraft.
•It takes more than 3600 litres of paint to cover an A380.
•Qatar’s in-flight entertainment is the Thales mainframe Top Series Avant system, presented as Oryx. It gives internet connection, and passengers can check emails and send text messages.
•The aircraft has Engine Alliance GP7000 engines. The internal working temperature of the airplane’s four engines is about 1700C.
•The plane can cruise at 43,000 feet, to a maximum speed of 1030km/h.
•The airline pays great attention to service, food and beverages. As examples, in business class, choices of wine include Billecart-Salmon French champagne (from a small producer dating back to 1818); Bouchard Pere et Fils chardonnay from Burgundy, France, from a family producer of nine generations; and Chateau Dereszla sweet Tokaji, from Chateau Dereszla, a noble house which can trace its production history back to 1450 and was a favourite of the kings of Hungary.
Qatar Airways flies daily direct between Perth and Doha and connects to the rest of the world.
For more information and to book flights, vist qatarairways.com/au or call 1300 340 600.
© The West Australian
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