Who would have thought that now was the right time to be launching new long-haul routes to the United States? While many airlines are dramatically scaling back their schedules for at least the next few months in response to the deteriorating Coronavirus situation, Qatar Airways believes now is exactly the right time to launch a new route between its hub in Doha to Seattle.
In fact, so confident is Qatar Airways about its new route that it’s bringing the launch date forward by nearly two months. Originally slated to start operating four times per week from March 15, 2021, Qatar Airways now says the service will begin on January 29, 2021.
And not only is Qatar Airways starting the route in the midst of a deadly second wave of COVID-19 infections that has gripped the United States but it is also increasing available seat capacity by 25 per cent more than originally planned by using a Boeing 777 jet rather than an Airbus A350.
Many airline executives believe their route networks could be considerably smaller for years to come because of lingering travel bans and the prospect that lucrative business travel could be slow to return. But with the launch of its Seattle service, Qatar Airways will actually be flying to more destinations in the United States than it did before the pandemic.
“Qatar Airways is committed to enhancing its connectivity with the U.S. market,” commented chief executive Akbar Al Baker on Thursday. “Bringing forward the launch of flights to Seattle, our second new U.S. destination since the onset of the pandemic, epitomises this commitment.”
Strategically, Qatar Airways will be partnering with Seattle-based Alaska Airlines which is set to become a fellow member of the oneworld alliance in March 2021. A frequent flyer partnership has already launched and codeshare agreements should be finalized once Alaska once it joins the airline alliance.
Al Akbar hopes to use the partnership to attract passengers from across the U.S. west coast to its hub in Doha and beyond. Qatar Airways also has strategic partnerships with American Airlines and jetBlue to further widen its reach across the United States.
Qatar Airways will be flying to Seattle four times per week on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. The route will initially be operated by a Boeing 777 before switching to an Airbus A350-900 in March 2021.
- Doha (DOH) to Seattle (SEA) QR719 departs: 08:00 arrives: 12:20
- Seattle (SEA) to Doha (DOH) QR720 departs: 17:05 arrives: 17:15+1
By the end of March 2021, Qatar Airways hopes to have rebuilt its network 129 destinations. At the height of COVID-19 restrictions in April, the airline’s route network was reduced to just 30 destinations.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.