Who would have thought that now was the right time to be launching new long-haul routes to the United States? While many airlines are dramatically scaling back their schedules for at least the next few months in response to the deteriorating Coronavirus situation, Qatar Airways believes now is exactly the right time to launch a new route between its hub in Doha to Seattle.
In fact, so confident is Qatar Airways about its new route that it’s bringing the launch date forward by nearly two months. Originally slated to start operating four times per week from March 15, 2021, Qatar Airways now says the service will begin on January 29, 2021.
And not only is Qatar Airways starting the route in the midst of a deadly second wave of COVID-19 infections that has gripped the United States but it is also increasing available seat capacity by 25 per cent more than originally planned by using a Boeing 777 jet rather than an Airbus A350.
“Qatar Airways is committed to enhancing its connectivity with the U.S. market,” commented chief executive Akbar Al Baker on Thursday. “Bringing forward the launch of flights to Seattle, our second new U.S. destination since the onset of the pandemic, epitomises this commitment.”
Strategically, Qatar Airways will be partnering with Seattle-based Alaska Airlines which is set to become a fellow member of the oneworld alliance in March 2021. A frequent flyer partnership has already launched and codeshare agreements should be finalized once Alaska once it joins the airline alliance.
Qatar Airways will be flying to Seattle four times per week on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. The route will initially be operated by a Boeing 777 before switching to an Airbus A350-900 in March 2021.
By the end of March 2021, Qatar Airways hopes to have rebuilt its network 129 destinations. At the height of COVID-19 restrictions in April, the airline’s route network was reduced to just 30 destinations.