Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker has explained that the airline will no longer offer first class options for future long-haul flights, as he no longer sees their necessity.
In an interview with Bloomberg, ahead of the annual International Air Transport Association General Meeting, Al Baker said that investing in the first class suites is simply not profitable enough. Moreover, most of the services offered for first class passengers are also available in business class.
Why should you invest in a subclass of an aeroplane that already gives you all the amenities that first class gives you? I don’t see the necessity.Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways CEO told Bloomberg
The CEO is betting on the airline’s business class Q-suites. The newly delivered Airbus A350s and Boeing 787s already only have business classes. Most of the aircraft that still has first classes are bound to be retired as soon as the airline receives the rest of its orders, however, due to supply chain issues in the aircraft manufacturing sector, this will take longer than expected.
“What is happening is a vicious circle and this is the industry’s biggest challenge”, Al Baker said. “Our growth ambitions will have to be capped with the shortage of capacity.” From the 25 new Boeing 787s, Airbus 321neos and Airbus A350s the airline was supposed to receive this year, only 10 are going to be delivered in time, the CEO explained.
All the Airbus 380s Qatar is still operating were supposed to have already retired during the pandemic, but with the delays in delivery of new aircraft, these are still in use. However, the airline still plans to replace all of them by the end of the decade, not expecting the delays to be resolved sooner than that. One all the old planes are replaced, there will be no more first class on any of Qatar Airways’ long-haul flights.
On the other hand, the airline’s decision to scrap first class has been called into question. Bloomberg pointed out that other major airlines, including Lufthansa, Qantas or Air France, are improving their first class offers and Qatar Airways’ opposite decision might affect its ranking among the best airlines in the world. Moreover, commenting on the profitability of first class Al Baker mentioned, Ben Schlappig from One Mile at a Time said “the airline over invests in business class and under invests in first class”, which is why it seems business class is almost as good as first class.