Qatar Airways is planning a first class cabin for the highly-anticipated Boeing 777X. This solution won’t be seen on the widebody at launch and will only appear on some of the flag carrier of Qatar’s units.
A select few
The airline is looking to fill a gap in luxury travel after the retirement of its Airbus A380s. The superjumbos are currently grounded amid the global health crisis and the 777Xs are set to take precedence following their introduction from 2022.
In an interview with Executive Traveller, Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker shared that these 777-9 first class offerings would feature on only a few premium European services. The executive highlights that his company is studying the possibility of having a very exclusive first class cabin of just four seats. Notably. it would be a niche product targeted at affluent passengers from Qatar.
Al Baker adds that there is a significant demand for such a cabin in Qatar to up to three European destinations. For instance, routes to the likes of London and Paris could feature the product.
In the interview with Executive Traveller, Al Baker summarized the response to the demand with the following:
“…so we may introduce a very small first class cabin for our local passengers who want a very exclusive first class product.”
Making careful decisions
The businessman is looking to retire the company’s A380s on their 10th anniversary with the airline. The cost of keeping them in the current climate isn’t justified. The units were delivered between September 2014 and April 2018. Therefore, starting from the next four years, the first of these will be phased out.
Qatar Airways is being careful with its first class plans in order to have the right balance. The economics of such a cabin are sensitive due to the feature competing with business class for floorspace.
Al Baker told Executive Traveller the following:
“I think eventually, first class will keep shrinking on airlines. An aeroplane is very expensive real estate, and occupying a big portion with so few seats as first class, which (on Qatar’s A380) had a load factor of averaging never more than 55-60%.”
Cream of the crop
Altogether, Qatar Airways prides itself as a premium airline, offering high-quality solutions for passengers across the board. If the first class offering on the 777X comes into fruition, it will undoubtedly stand out.
What are your thoughts about Qatar Airways developing a first class solution on the Boeing 777X? Do you think this offering would be a good move for the airline? Let us know what you think of the prospects in the cabin section.