Qatar Airways, considered the world’s best airline, is to do away with first-class berths on its next-generation long-haul aircraft, according to CEO Akbar Al-Baker.
“Why should you invest in a subclass of an aeroplane that already gives you all the amenities that first class gives you,” said Al-Baker, speaking in an exclusive interview with Bloomberg on Saturday. “I don’t see the necessity.”
The airline, which won last year’s Skytrax ‘Airline of the Year’ award for a record seventh time, will phase out first class long-haul routes on its future Boeing Co 777X aircraft, departing from its “five-star image and an industry trend.” Competitors including Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Qantas Airways and Air France, have all enhanced their high-end offerings. Instead Qatar has branded its business class as the “Q-suite”, which it is argued, offers much of the same perks.
Speaking ahead of the annual International Airport Association gathering of some 300 airlines, Al-Baker said his airline is about 15 planes short of the 25 it expected to take over this year — pointing to issues on the Boeing 787, the Airbus 321neo and the A350 jets.
“What is happening is a vicious circle and this is the industry’s biggest challenge,” said Al-Baker. “Our growth ambitions will have to be capped with the shortage of capacity.”