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Qatar Airways is Looking to Introduce a New First Class Seat, Reversing Decision By Former CEO to Ditch Luxury Cabin

Qatar Airways is Looking to Introduce a New First Class Seat, Reversing Decision By Former CEO to Ditch Luxury Cabin

a large airplane on a runway

The new chief executive of Qatar Airways has announced that the Doha-based airline will introduce a brand new First Class seat, which is based on flying on a private jet and which will raise the global benchmark of what people experience in a First Class cabin.

CEO Badr Mohammed Al Meer’s decision to develop a new First Class product completely reverses the strategy of his predecessor, Akbar Al Baker, who suddenly and unexpectedly resigned late last year after more than 27 years at the helm of the government-owned carrier.

Al Baker had personally disliked the concept of having a First Class cabin and had instead pushed the airline’s Business Class as being akin to the First Class experience on other airlines.

This was particularly true for the highly regarded QSuite Business Class product which Al Baker labeled as ‘First in Business’.

Over the years, Qatar Airways had eliminated First Class from its fleet with the exception of regional routes and its Airbus A380 superjumbo, although Al Baker had also shown a personal disdain for the ‘whale jet’ describing the aircraft as his ‘worst mistake’.

After taking over at Qatar Airways last November, Al Meer has so far shied away from making any drastic changes to the carrier’s strategy, largely concentrating on attempting to improve employee morale, especially with cabin crew, although that now looks set to change.

In an interview with CNBC Internationa, Al Meer revealed some of the major changes that have been developed behind the scenes since he took charge, and one of them is the reintroduction of a First Class cabin.

“We were always focusing on two cabins, Economy and Business,” Al Meer told the business channel. “However, based on demands for certain sectors we see that there is and that there will be, always, very high demand on First Class.”

“We have always been pushing away the concept of having a First Class cabin on our aircraft, but I have decided in the last few months that we have to introduce a First Class cabin… especially when we have to exit (retire) the A380.”

Just like his predecessor, Al Meer was not shy about talking up the Qatar Airways experience, saying of the new First Class product:

“I feel that nobody can develop a First Class cabin better than us for a very simple reason – you see what we have developed with the QSuite, which is still the best, and if we don’t announce our new QSuite for many years, our current QSuite will still be the benchmark.”

“We will utilise our knowledge and our expertise from having a private jet company… we want to combine the experience from flying commercial and from flying a private jet and develop something new which will be a new First Class cabin.”

As for when the new seat might be introduced, Al Meer wasn’t able to say, although he said that the product could revealed in only a matter of months, saying:

“We are 70% and 80% ready, and we are only finalising colours and final touches, but hopefully, we will be able to announce it very soon”.

In addition to a new First Class cabin, Al Meer also told CNBC International that the airline had recently submitted a proposal to both Airbus and Boeing for a large new aircraft order.

Al Meer wasn’t, however, willing to share any further details about the order.

View Comment (1)
  • It would be good to see them one-up their rivals and go for a 1-1 first class product on the level of Singapore’s A380 suites. If Q Suites are already good enough for almost everyone, first class needs to be that much more impressive. Just two first class suites for mega spenders & Qatari elite.

    There’s no shortage of concepts out there for private cabins with separate bedrooms and private lavatories. A shower is very unlikely however. Ultimately it’s more likely they go for a 1-1-1 or 1-2-1.

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