Just a couple of weeks after Qatar Airways announced that it is to fly from Doha to Sydney the airline continues its expansion in the Australia market, the with the launch of a daily flight from Doha to Adelaide from Monday 2 May 2016.
This is Qatar Airways’ fourth destination in Australia after (as mentioned above) Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.
Qatar will fly to Adelaide using its latest Airbus A350 aircraft, operating in a two class (business and economy) configuration.
The aircraft comprises 36 seats in business class in a 1-2-1 configuration, featuring 80″ fully-flat beds and 17″ HD in-flight entertainment screens, and 247 seats in economy, each 18-inches wide in a 3-3-3 configuration, with up to a 32″ pitch. Each individual economy seat features a 10.6″ in-flight entertainment screen. Wi-Fi is also available in all classes.
Flight QR 914 Depart Doha 20:55 – Arrive Adelaide 16:20
Flight QR 915 Depart Adelaide 21:30 – Arrive Doha 04:50
As Qatar Airways is a member of the Oneworld alliance, members of other Oneworld alliance frequent flyer programmes will be able to earn and redeem frequent flyer miles on this route.
The news has been welcomed enthusiastically by IAG CEO Willie Walsh, citing the fact that Qatar Airways has recently joined the Oneworld alliance and British Airways has recently started co-operating with BA on areas such as codesharing on Qatar routes from Doha to Asia.
Willie Walsh also cites the opportunity for further commercial co-operation between Qatar Airways and IAG mber airlines.
There is certainly scope for greater collaboration. For example, BA still serves Doha via a stop in Bahrain and the two airlines could explore a revenue sharing joint-venture on routes to and beyond Doha, as BA has with other Oneworld alliance partners such as American Airlines and Japan Airlines.
At the moment there are no changes to the board structure of IAG. Should Qatar Airways wish to increase its stake in IAG, under EU ownership rules, it would be capped at 49%.
Qatar Airways is not the first Middle Eastern airline to invest in European aviation as Etihad Airways has taken equity stakes in a portfolio of airlines such as Air Berlin, Aer Lingus, Alitalia and Air Serbia. Etihad also has a codeshare relationship with Air France KLM. Emirates has so far eschewed taking equity stakes in other airlines.
Finally, it is also noteworthy that Qatar Airways has invested in IAG at a time when it’s share price is at an all time high, above 550p. IAG’s share price has previously hit lows of around 110p.
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.