Akbar Al Baker, the outspoken chief executive of Qatar Airways, has offered to tell the boss of rival carrier Lufthansa about all the “mistakes” the German flag carrier has made with its new First and Business Class seats, which were only unveiled to the public for the very first time last week.
Speaking on Tuesday in Lufthansa’s own backyard at the first ITB Berlin travel trade show since the pandemic, Al Baker seemingly mocked Lufthansa and its ‘Allegris’ cabin upgrade programme that was recently revealed in the German capital.
“Congratulations to him… but he is nearly 12 years behind Qatar Airways’ product improvement, and whilst he does that programme, we now go into our next evolution of Qatar Airways product”, Al Baker commented after he was asked his opinion about Lufthansa’s new premium seats.
“He is my friend,” Al Baker said of Carsten Spohr. “If he were to invite me, I would certainly fly on his product, and maybe I would tell him how many mistakes he has made”.
“You can always announce a product, (but) it takes ages to put the product (onboard),” Al Baker continued.
“You can put seats, you can put fancy stuff around the seats, but you can never deliver the human touch that Qatar Airways will give you… the passion, the hospitality, the attention that you get on Qatar Airways you will never get on someone else.”
The jewel in the crown of Lufthansa’s cabin upgrades is a new fully enclosed First Class suite but Al Baker seemingly mocked so-called ‘halo’ products featured by Lufthansa and Emirates which present a luxury image of the airline but which few passengers will ever get to enjoy.
“The partition up to the ceiling, virtual windows, it’s all good,” Al Baker said, seemingly in reference to Lufthansa’s new First Class suite and Emirates ‘Game Changer First Class.
“At the end of the day, this is why you start paying such high prices against Qatar Airways because we don’t have all this fancy rubbish on our planes”.
While Al Baker’s off-the-cuff comments regularly steal the limelight, the Qatar Airways boss was actually in Berlin to announce a major network expansion for the Doha-based carrier.
This year alone, Qatar Airways will begin operations to seven new destinations, including Chittagong, Juba, Kinshasa, Lyon, Medan, Toulouse, and Trabzon. The airline also intends to resume services to 11 other destinations, such as Beijing, Birmingham and Tokyo Haneda, as well as Buenos Aires and Casablanca.
In response to another question, Al Baker also criticised oil companies for failing to invest in Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) that would make the aviation industry greener and more environmentally friendly because they “don’t want to invest” in SAF because they are till focused on hydrocarbons.
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.