Qatar Airways became on Thursday (January 15) the first airline to start regular flights with Airbus's most advanced plane, the A350, throwing down a challenge to Germany's Lufthansa at its home airport.
Lufthansa has been a fierce critic of Middle Eastern airlines including Qatar, Emirates and Etihad, citing competition from them and low-cost carriers, along with economic headwinds, for two cuts to its 2015 profit target last year.
Fast-growing Qatar launched commercial flights with its wide-body A350, which seats 36 passengers in business and 247 in economy, between Frankfurt and Doha, and said its second A350 would serve the same twice-daily route from March.
"With the A350 we are turning a new page in aviation history, revealing a brand new aircraft, that is quite simply marvelous," Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker told an event in Frankfurt.
Qatar has ordered 80 A350s, comprising 38 of the 350-900 variant and 42 of the larger 350-1000s. It expects eight of the aircraft to be delivered during 2015.