Paris (AFP) - EU authorities gave the green light Tuesday for Airbus's new long-haul A350 plane to enter service, opening the way for delivery of the next-generation aircraft to first client Qatar Airways.

Designed to help the European manufacturer catch up with its American rival Boeing in the market for long-haul, fuel-efficient planes, the A350-900 makes extensive use of light composite materials which reduce fuel consumption and costs.

"Airbus demonstrated that the aircraft complies with the regulatory safety and environment requirements defined by EASA (the European Aviation Safety Agency) for the European Union," the EU aviation watchdog said in a statement.

Airbus has positioned its A350 between the Boeing's popular 777 and its 787 Dreamliner, hoping to eat away at both planes' markets.

"Every new type of aircraft needs to obtain a ... certificate before it can be delivered to an airline," EASA said in its statement.

"This EASA certificate guarantees that the A350-900 is set for delivery from a safety and environment point of view."

The plane can carry 315 passengers over a distance of 14.500 kilometres (9,000 miles), and to date, 750 A350 aircraft have been ordered by 39 customers worldwide.

In August, Airbus had announced that the plane had completed its "route proving", a round-the-world in 20 days trip aimed at testing the aircraft's readiness for airline operations, during which it flew 180 hours and stopped off in 14 airports.

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