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Qatar Airways

The new “QSuite” in Business Class

Qatar Airways has announced a major revamp of its Business Class, with the launch of what it’s calling the “QSuite.”

The seats won’t be available to passengers until this summer.

But the airline’s CEO Akbar Al Baker introduced the “revolutionary” change at the ITB tourism conference in Berlin yesterday.

Qatar Airways

The new “QSuite” in Business Class

The QSuites, which will be fitted both forward-facing and rear-facing, come equipped with doors to offer greater privacy.

Some of the seats in the middle sections will also have the capability to convert into a double bed.

Additionally, the middle seats have a screen that can open up to allow four passengers to eat together or chat.

The airline has created a special hashtag for the launch called #FirstInBusiness, to assert that it offers a First Class service experience in its Business Class cabins.

Summer launch

According to Al Baker, all of the airline’s existing aircraft will be retrofitted with the new seats by the summer of 2018.

But by this June, the first aircraft to be fitted with the new seats will the Boeing 777s that fly to London Heathrow, he told journalists.

Qatar Airways

The new “QSuite” in Business Class

Aircraft flying to Paris and New York’s JFK airport will follow shortly, he said.

Al Baker added that the airline’s Boeing 787s and Airbus A380s will have different QSuites due to their dimensions.

Qatar Airways

The new “QSuite” in Business Class

All of the airline’s new Boeing 777 and Airbus A350-1000s will be delivered with QSuites, he added.

No premium economy

Addressing other queries from the press, Al Baker reiterated his statement that the airline has no plans to introduce a Premium Economy class.

He did however add that Qatar Airways will bring in new economy seats “down the line.”

Richard Lee/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The airline has made changes to the interior of its Boeing 777 fleet over the past two years, fitting 10 seats per row in the economy cabin, instead of nine.

The move reduced the width of each seat by almost two inches, to 17 inches across.

Al Baker also stated his intention to start up a Qatari-owned domestic airline in India “soon,” the Times of India reported.

And when asked his opinion on the ongoing spat between American and Middle Eastern carriers, he replied:

“Donald Trump is a business man and will do what’s in the best interest of the American people.”

Thoughts?

SVZM Aero (@svzmaero) / Twitter

An Al Maha Airways A320

After years of delays, Qatar’s national carrier has given up on plans to launch Al Maha airline in Saudi Arabia, its chief officer has confirmed.

In an interview with Arabian Aerospace this month, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said that he was “disappointed that we were not able to launch that airline.”

The comment was the first public confirmation that the project has been dropped.

Al Maha Airways

Al Maha Airways logo

Five years ago, Qatar Airways and GCC rival Gulf Air were awarded the right to operate new airlines within Saudi Arabia. The goal was to help meet rising domestic demand there.

But while SaudiGulf – Gulf Air’s off-shoot – was granted a license to operate in the kingdom last summer, no license for Al Maha was ever awarded.

Not giving up

However, Al Baker does not seem to have given up entirely on the idea of expanding into Saudi Arabia.

In the interview with Arabian Aerospace, he said that he hoped his airline would have “another opportunity to fulfill our wish to serve the Saudi nation.”

Qatar Airways/Flickr

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker

He added that a recent change in leadership within the Saudi transport ministry and the expansion of the country’s airports might pave the way for future opportunities.

“Once all those problems are resolved, we will reinvigorate our interest in operating a domestic Saudi airline,” he said.

Aircraft in use

Although Al Maha Airways never operated a flight, four of Qatar Airways’ A320 aircraft are painted in its livery, in white and green to match Saudi Arabia’s national colors.

Since they were delivered in 2015, Qatar Airways has been using some of them on short-haul regional routes.

And one of these, A7-LAA, was photographed last year leaving Shannon in Ireland after being repainted in Qatar Airways’ colors.

Thoughts?

Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways touches down in Auckland, New Zealand

Qatar’s national carrier is now the official operator of the world’s longest commercial flight, following the launch of its new service to Auckland, New Zealand.

Flight QR920 left Doha at 5:10am local time on Sunday morning.

Nearly 16 hours and 10 time zones later, it touched down in Auckland close to 11pm Qatar time the same night.

There were four pilots aboard Qatar Airways’ inaugural flight on the Boeing 777, which can hold 217 passengers in economy and 42 in business class.

The service was originally slated to launch in December, but faced some delays.

How long is that

The return leg of the 14,535km (9,031-mile) journey on the Boeing 777 takes 17 hours and 30 minutes.

According to Qatar Airways, that’s longer than all of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, which were filmed in New Zealand.

LOTR

Lord of the Rings

The journey also beats out the previous world’s longest flight, Dubai to Auckland on Emirates, by about 15 minutes.

Notably, Air India operates a longer flight by distance from Delhi to San Francisco, but that takes 14 and a half hours.

And next year, Singapore Airlines may take the top spot when it resumes non-stop flights to New York, a 19-hour service that could relaunch next year.

Roundtrip Doha-Auckland flights on Qatar Airways in February currently cost around US$1,300.

Who’s up for a long trip? Thoughts?