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Qatar Airways offers arguably the best all-around Business Class product in the world and it’s a product that’s better than a number of First Class cabins that I can mention. It also currently only offers its own First Class product on its Airbus A380 aircraft which the airline has already said it will be retiring…so will Qatar Airways really introduce a brand new First Class cabin?
In an interview given to Executive Traveller, the Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker has said that a sub-set of the Boeing 777X aircraft that the airline currently has on order may offer a brand new First Class cabin when they’re finally delivered. The suggestion is that the airline may be able to employ a small (4 seat) First Class cabin on very select premium-heavy routes that will be squarely aimed at wealthier Qataris looking to travel in a “very exclusive first class product“.
By Al Baker’s own admission we probably shouldn’t expect to see a new First Class product appearing on any of the airline’s US routes as it would almost certainly only serve “two to three European destinations” for which Qatar Airways is seeing “huge [local] demand” for a niche First Class product. London and Paris have been mentioned but it’s anyone’s guess as to what other European city the CEO has in mind.
We should also not expect to see a new First Class product unveiled any time soon. Qatar Airways has already indicated that it’s pushing back all deliveries of new aircraft by up to 10 years (although that may be an exaggeration) and Al Baker has confirmed that the first 777X to be delivered will not have a new First Class cabin “because we want to have a product that is really very unique, so we need time to develop it.”
The current Qatar Airways First Class product doesn’t offer much to get excited about (I was underwhelmed when I reviewed it in 2017 and it hasn’t changed since then) so I’m not sure how excited I am to discover that Qatar Airways may be offering a new product at some point down the line. The airline does Business Class so very well that any First Class cabin that it introduces would have to be out of this world to get me to part with the extra miles that it would cost…but then this isn’t a product that would be aimed at me 🙂
Right now I’m not entirely convinced that we’ll see a new First Class cabin from Qatar Airways because I don’t see it as a priority for the airline. This could just be another Al Baker soundbite to get us to keep talking about his airline (it has worked!).
Getting back to flying the routes it was flaying last year, rolling out the Qsuite cabin across the whole of its network and introducing Qsuite 2.0 on its new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners are all far more important to the airline’s bottom line than a niche 4-seat First Class cabin will ever be, so it’s only after all of that has been accomplished that I suspect the airline will have the time and resources to dedicate to a new First Class cabin…but by then there will be new things to worry about. There always will be.
Still, rightly or wrongly, Qatar Airways sees itself as the best airline in the world so it makes sense that it may want to be able to offer a cabin above Business Class to its wealthier flyers (for reasons of prestige and snobbery if nothing else) so I’m not ruling out a new First Class cabin completely…I’ll just be surprised if it arrives in the next 10 years.
The CEO of Qatar Airways has suggested that his airline may offer a new and highly exclusive 4-seat First Class cabin on some of its more premium-heavy European routes at some unspecified date in the future. With everything that’s going on in the airline sector right now and with a lot of other Qatar Airways projects still not completed I’m not holding my breath on this one…but that doesn’t mean that it won’t happen.