We have to admit to being a little surprised by Qatar Airways’ plans to launch an all business class flight from London Heathrow to Doha, from 15 May 2014. This will complement the airline’s five daily services between the two cities.
That one of the “Middle East Three” carriers is adding capacity to London Heathrow is not unexpected. It’s one of the largest business and premium travel markets in the world and the Middle East carriers have generally been able to pursue an unfettered expansion in the UK, unlike, say, Germany.
Nor it is unusual for an airline to launch a scheduled business class only service. BA has its own all business service from London City to New York JFK, for example.
However, given how sought after Heathrow slot pairs are for relatively small new entrants, it is little unusual to see a valuable slot pair used for a 40 seat all business class service.
We can only deduce that, aircraft availability issues aside, Qatar wishes to pursue high margin business travellers over the volume that a larger aircraft could provide.
Flight QR16 will depart London Heathrow at 9.55pm and arrives into Doha at 6.40am (well suited for business travellers flying only to Doha).
Flight QR15 will depart Doha at 2.50pm and arrives into London Heathrow at 8.25pm (not quite so well suited for point to point business travellers).
This service will no doubt be attractive to those able to take advantage of it. For completeness, it’s also worth adding that as Qatar Airways is a member of the Oneworld alliance, members of Oneworld frequent flyer programmes will be able to earn and redeem their respective frequent flyer miles on this flight.