Qatar Airways has taken a completely different strategy than most international airlines during the pandemic. The airline has continued flying in markets where other airlines decided to suspend flights, with the hope of that being a competitive advantage as demand starts to recover. Either that strategy is paying off in the United States, or Qatar Airways is about to take a big gamble.
Qatar Airways’ impressive USA summer schedule
In the coming weeks, Qatar Airways will operate 100+ weekly frequencies to a dozen airports in the United States, which is more service than the airline offered pre-pandemic. That’s right, by next month Qatar Airways will be offering more capacity to the United States than it did in 2019.
Of its 12 destinations, Qatar Airways is operating more than daily (up to double daily) flights in five markets, daily flights in six markets, and less than daily flights in just one market.
Here’s how Qatar Airways’ service increases break down by market:
- Atlanta (ATL) will have 5x weekly flights as of July 15, 2021
- Boston (BOS) will have 7x weekly flights as of July 3, 2021
- Chicago (ORD) will have 14x weekly flights between July 21 and September 26, 2021
- Dallas (DFW) will have 12x weekly flights between July 11 and September 26, 2021
- Houston (IAH) will continue to have 7x weekly flights
- Los Angeles (LAX) will have 14x weekly flights between July 16 and September 26, 2021
- Miami (MIA) will have 7x weekly flights as of July 4, 2021
- New York (JFK) will have 14x weekly flights as of June 29, 2021
- Philadelphia (PHL) will have 7x weekly flights as of July 21, 2021
- San Francisco (SFO) will have 7x weekly flights as of June 29, 2021
- Seattle (SEA) will have 7x weekly as of June 28, 2021
- Washington (IAD) will have 14x weekly flights between July 22 and September 26, 2021
Historically the only Qatar Airways destination in the United States that saw more than once daily service was New York, so to see four more airports get up to twice daily flights is awesome. As you can see, the expanded service is largely through late September, so I’ll be curious to see if any of these capacity increases extend into the fall.
What is Qatar Airways’ strategy here?
I’ve written in the past about Qatar Airways’ pandemic recovery advantage. The way I view it, Qatar Airways has two major advantages coming out of this pandemic compared to competitors.
First of all, Qatar Airways has done a spectacular job building its partnerships, and those changes have been especially noticeable in the United States:
- American Airlines and Qatar Airways now have a strategic partnership, meaning that American Airlines is providing increased feed to Qatar Airways at several of its gateways; this probably partly explains the more than once daily frequencies in Dallas, Los Angeles, etc.
- Alaska Airlines recently joined oneworld, and on top of that has a strategic partnership with Qatar Airways; this is especially valuable for Qatar Airways’ new Seattle service, but there’s also a fair bit of connectivity in Los Angeles and San Francisco
- JetBlue Airways and Qatar Airways recently strengthened their partnership, which is valuable for connectivity in the northeast
With Etihad Airways no longer a major competitor in the United States, and with Emirates Airline not belonging to an alliance and cutting ties with Alaska Airlines, this is a massive competitive advantage for Qatar Airways.
The other major advantage that Qatar Airways has is just how global its route network is right now, thanks to the airline having flown throughout the pandemic. Qatar Airways has a lot of fleet flexibility (especially in comparison to Emirates, which only operates wide bodies), so the airline has been able to keep flying when other airlines couldn’t.
As you start to add back flights following a pandemic, every additional potential city pair helps with filling seats.
Now, ultimately time will tell how this strategy works out for Qatar Airways. It’s fantastic for consumers, though I’m curious how Qatar’s financial results (and load factors, revenue per available seat mile, etc.) compare to carriers like Emirates.
It’s impressive to see how much capacity Qatar Airways will be offering to the United States this summer. The airline will serve more destinations and offer more frequencies than it did pre-pandemic, which is pretty unheard of. I can’t think of any other foreign airline with major service to the United States that has fully restored its service, let alone added more capacity than pre-coronavirus.
What do you make of Qatar Airways’ summer USA schedule?
Sir, I would very much like first class upgrade to Lahore. Please, Sir, give me upgrade to Pakistan and I give you nice BJ !
Why Qatar airways cancel flights to Pakistan ???
Why cancel daily flights to Pakistan ? Any reason?
I want to know are you operating flights from Pakistan to Norway?
This air lines does not respond those who seek refund. The ceo slso does not respond. No responsibility to any one.
Ben any guess when you think some of the expanded schedule will be loaded so you can redeem AA miles? QR also added a Doha-Lusaka Zambia flight 3x weekly and American can't see that flight yet even though it's bookable on QR's website.
Ole makes a good point about DTW; it would seem to be a logical destination. However, it's also a big DL hub so the lack of OneWorld customers may have played into the decision not to serve that market.
Lot of students stuck in the subcontinent affected due to the travel ban. They’re allowed into US starting July 1 and QR has perfectly timed connections into these cities.
Everywhere but Detroit even though, it has largest Arab population in US and large Indian subcontinent population to support such flights.
The connecting non-US flights at DOH are still an issue. Pre-pandemic QSuites haven’t been restored on some routes, even at the end of their available schedule and they still insist on the downgraded service for business class fares close to those before March 2020, with unreasonable increases in fares to get lounge access and seat assignments. Absent further AA status extensions that could give both US and foreign lounge access at all airports, it’s too...
The connecting non-US flights at DOH are still an issue. Pre-pandemic QSuites haven’t been restored on some routes, even at the end of their available schedule and they still insist on the downgraded service for business class fares close to those before March 2020, with unreasonable increases in fares to get lounge access and seat assignments. Absent further AA status extensions that could give both US and foreign lounge access at all airports, it’s too iffy a prospect. That, plus the possibility of internal body cavity searches in DOH for women, led me to book a discounted first class ticket on another carrier to JNB from the US for not much more than the loungeless, seat assignmentless fare on QR. I’d bought several of QR’s discounted business class seats for personal travel in the past. Still too much uncertainty regarding service to convince me to try it again.
As far as I know, Qatar is still blocking middle seats in Economy Class on their planes, so their A350's are actually operating at a 2-2-2 configuration (except for families who can sit together). That is why, despite many destinations still being closed around the world, there are more flights to the U.S.
I don't think that's the case. My friend just flew back to on Qatar economy last week, and seems like he was telling me they are not blocking middle seats anymore
How's the award availability in J? Also, I know QR laid off a good number of cabin crew. I'm curious whether QR is rehiring them or hiring a new batch.
What's interesting is who is all this capacity for?
Pre pandemic ME3 has a lot of traffic connecting Asia to USA.
As far as I see this summer, most of Asia is still closed for business.
Maybe they will undercut the price enough to get people to fly to EU the long way.
Or cargo business is really booming.
Qatar also announced a new flight to Lusaka and Harare.
Zimbabwe has just gone into another lockdown due to sharply rising Covid cases and is on the no-travel list of quite a few countries. All this grab for market share may backfire at dome point