Browsing 'aviation' News

Cebu/Facebook

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The low-cost Philippines carrier Cebu Pacific Air will stop flying to Doha at the beginning of July because the route is no longer financially viable, it said.

The airline has been flying direct to Qatar for just over two years, and announced that its last return flight from Manila to Doha will be on July 1.

It will also cease flying to Kuwait from mid-June and the Saudi city of Riyadh in early July.

3dom/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Passengers who are already booked on flights after these dates can transfer to another airline offering the same routes (subject to availability), book for an earlier flight with Cebu Pacific (also depending on availability) or get a full refund.

The airline “strongly advised” all such passengers to contact their travel agents or its hotline (+632 7020 881) to discuss their options.

Too much competition

Cebu Pacific is essentially halting the routes due to too much competition, according to Atty JR Mantaring, vice president for Corporate Affairs of Cebu Pacific.

In a statement this week, Mantaring said:

“Of late, other carriers have aggressively added more flights, which has resulted in substantial oversupply of seats and fares that are so low, hence making the routes unsustainable…

At this point, it makes more sense for us to re-deploy the aircraft used for our Riyadh, Doha and Kuwait service to routes where we can further stimulate demand and sustain our low fare offers.”

Cebu Pacific will continue to fly to Dubai and Sydney and may increase capacity to these cities, the statement added.

Crowded market

The airline began direct flights between Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport and Hamad International Airport (HIA) in Doha in June 2015.

A 436-seat, all-economy class Airbus A330 flies between the cities twice a week. It was initially popular when the route first started because of its competitive fares.

Wikimedia

Ninoy Aquino International Airport

While Qatar Airways also flies twice-daily direct flights on the same routes, prices were usually higher.

The national carrier increased its service to the Philippines’ capital in July 2015. That’s the same month that Cebu started its direct Doha-Manila service.

National flag carrier Philippine Airlines also began offering the same route earlier this year, in a bid to meet the needs of Qatar’s 260,000-strong Filipino population.

Philippine Airlines/Facebook

Philippine Airlines (PAL)

That carrier operates four times a week, on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday on A330 aircraft.

Its daytime departure and arrivals times, and its competitive introductory prices, has attracted many travelers.

Tickets range from QR885 to QR2,745 in economy, and include WiFi and meal service. Passengers can also check in two pieces of luggage, weighing up to 23kg each.

A business class option could be rolled out this summer.

Are you due to fly with Cebu Pacific soon? Thoughts?

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?