Qatar Airways is ditching First Class on its new aircraft

Qatar Airways aircraft parked on the tarmac (Source: Qatar Airways)

While some airlines invest in their First Class offering, other airlines steer away from the most luxurious travel cabin in the skies. Qatar Airways CEO announced last weekend that they will not install a First Class cabin in their new generation aircraft. The national carrier of Qatar wants to focus more on its Qsuite Business Class product. 

Fleet renewal

After the pandemic, many airlines started renewing their fleet. In the new aircraft there is more emphasis on Premium Economy. KLM for instance added a new travel cabin called Premium Comfort in their new Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Boeing 777 aircraft. And Delta and American Airlines are other examples with a renewed Premium Economy experience. The idea is that the PE product gives better return on investment without sacrificing too much Economy Class seats. 

The last years, we’ve also seen the development that jumbojets were sent to retire. Many airlines sent their Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 to the aircraft graveyard. Although some actually restart their A380 service, the Boeing 747 ‘Queen of the Skies’ remains a rare sight. By phasing out these aircraft, the capacity of First Class seats also drastically declined. Some airlines even stopped offering First Class altogether. 

Qatar Airways Airbus A380 First Class cabin (Source: Qatar Airways)

Qatar Airways First Class

But what happened at Qatar Airways, the airline known for its luxurious travel experience? In an interview with Fortune the CEO of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker, made a statement that the new Boeing 777X aircraft will not feature a First Class cabin. The reason being that the cabin is not profitable enough. Next to that, he mentioned that Qatar Airways’ Qsuite product is only a small difference to their current First Class offer. Although the article in Fortune suggest the end of First Class at QR, but that remains to be seen. 

It’s not a secret that airlines hardly make any profit on their First Class seats. It may sound strange that such a costly ticket isn’t profitable, but the airline also makes a lot of costs to offer all the perks that come with such a ticket. They for instance need to have separate First Class airport lounges, private transfer services from the lounge to the aircraft, personal assistance, a separate First Class dining menu on the ground and on board, an high quality amenity kit and much more. Moreover, the cabin, which often only has a few seats, does not always have to be fully occupied. So it might be smart to put a little less money into this. At the same time, Qatar Airways now risks loosing wealthy travelers turning to the competition. Lufthansa, British Airways and Air France, among others, still offer First Class.

Source pictures: Qatar Airways