Airbus has flown the first example of its heavier A340-600, launched by Emirates Airline two years ago. It is to enter service with Qatar Airways in mid-2006. The A340-600HGW (and its A340-500HGW counterpart) has a strengthened airframe and landing gear and is designed to offer a maximum takeoff weight of almost 838,000 pounds. In a typical three-class cabin configuration, the larger -600HGW will accommodate 380 passengers over a distance of 7,900 nm–about 250 nm further than currently possible.
Airbus reports additional Middle East interest from Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, as well as Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic in Europe. Certification of the aircraft is expected to take some six months.