Qatar Airways Plans to Launch Service Between Doha and San Francisco
Qatar Airways announced today that it intends to begin service between its hub in Doha (DOH) and San Francisco (SFO). In a press conference, the carrier said it wants to begin the new route as of 2018 and that it'll be operated by a Boeing 777-300ER, although it didn't specify a launch date — or for that matter, many other details of the route.
Currently, the carrier flies between Doha and 10 US cities — Atlanta (ATL), Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), New York (JFK), Philadelphia (PHL) and Washington, D.C. (IAD). Qatar also has plans to launch service between Doha and Las Vegas (LAS), however, the start of that route has been delayed from a January 2017 launch to a January 2018 launch.
Take this DOH-SFO news with a grain of salt, too, as Qatar and its CEO Akbar al-Baker are notorious for prematurely making announcements — only to delay the launch of new routes or cancel them altogether. So, while it would like to start this route sometime in 2018, there's no way of knowing when (or if) it'll actually happen.
Qatar's 777-300ER is a two-cabin aircraft with 42 lie-flat seats in a 2-2-2 configuration in business and 316 seats in a 3-4-3 configuration in economy. Earlier this year, Qatar showed off its new business-class product, Qsuites, which will be seen first on its flights between Doha and London, New York and Paris, and then eventually will be installed on its entire 777-300ER fleet. However, there's no telling when the retrofit will be complete and whether or not passengers will see QSuites on this DOH-SFO route.
As part of this announcement, the carrier also spoke of plans to launch to 11 other new — and some pretty random — destinations. They include Cardiff, UK (CWL); Utapao, Thailand (UTP); Chittagong, Bangladesh (CGP); Mykonos, Greece (JMK); Málaga, Spain (AGP); Accra, Ghana (ACC); Lisbon, Portugal (LIS); Abidjan, Ivory Coast (ABJ); Prague, Czech Republic (PRG); Kiev, Ukraine (IEV); and Mombasa, Kenya (MBA). In addition, the carrier plans to launch high-speed Ka-band satellite internet on flights this summer, beginning with its 777 and A350 aircraft.
This news comes around the same time Qatar's CEO al-Baker said the carrier's passenger numbers to the US has dipped following recent policy changes. According to the Associated Press, al-Baker said the drop in numbers is the result of passenger fears that their visas might be rejected upon arrival in the US. However, he said the drop is "affecting the business but to a very small extent," and expressed confidence in President Trump's business background and his policies.
You may recall that last week, Emirates announced it's cutting back service to five of its US destinations. The reduction in frequencies comes after the carrier said it's seen a reduction in bookings since the travel and electronics bans were announced. TPG Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig flew Emirates first class from Dubai (DXB) to New York (JFK) this weekend and only four of the 14 suites were occupied.
A flight attendant told him that loads are usually far heavier, so the slowdown in passenger bookings to the US seems to be accurate — at least in this case.
H/T: One Mile at a Time