Qatar Airways aims to become the first carrier to operate the Boeing 787 from the UK after displaying the Dreamliner at the Farnborough Air Show in July.
Doha-based Qatar is due to take delivery of its first 787 this summer and will make London the first destination outside the Gulf to see a daily scheduled service with the aircraft.
Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker confirmed on Thursday that the airline will operate one of five daily services between Heathrow and Doha with the Dreamliner later this year.
The carrier expects delivery of its first 787 in June, with four more to come this year.
Speaking at Heathrow, where Qatar opened a business and first class lounge at Terminal 4 on Friday, Al Baker said: “The first routes will be in the Gulf to get staff used to the aircraft. We will display the 787 at Farnborough and after the air show we will do the first flight from the UK.”
A Qatar spokesman said no date had been set for the launch of the UK service.
The Boeing 787 entered service with All Nippon Airways in late October 2011, but only three had been delivered by the start of this year following three years of delays. Japan Airlines will be the second carrier to receive the aircraft.
No airline has yet announced a start date for 787 services from the UK. Charter carrier Thomson Airways will be the first UK-based carrier to take delivery of the aircraft – with the first 787 now due in spring 2013.
Al Baker confirmed Qatar’s 787s will be configured with just two classes, saying: “I guarantee business class on Qatar will be more luxurious than any first class flying today.”
The airline will unveil new business and economy class seats designed for the 787 at German travel trade show ITB in Berlin in March. Al Baker said Qatar would “never” offer premium economy seats, insisting: “Our economy is premium compared to the economy on other airlines.”
The carrier’s lounge at Heathrow Terminal 4 is the first it has opened outside its Doha base.
Qatar Airways will add a fifth daily service between Heathrow and Doha in March, and launch its second route to Australia, flying to Perth, in July.