This is one of the more puzzling route announcements I’ve seen in a long time. Qatar Airways announced today that they’ll be starting 787 service between New York and Doha via Athens as of next year.
One of the beautiful things about the 787 is that it opens up routes that otherwise aren’t economical, either due to operating costs or lack of demand. The 787 is a much smaller aircraft than the Airbus 380, and as a result can profitably serve markets that otherwise wouldn’t be served.
I think Japan Airlines has done a spectacular job with their 787 routes, as they’ve started service to San Diego and Boston, routes that weren’t previously possible. Similarly, ANA has used the 787 to serve Seattle and San Jose.
But I’m still puzzled as to Qatar Airways’ 787 strategy. Taking advantage of fifth freedom rights is great, though of all the cities in Europe you could connect New York with enroute to Doha, is Athens really the first one that makes sense?
Beyond that I’m not really sure what purpose the stop serves. Qatar Airways already offers nonstop service between New York and Doha, so are they hoping to just transport passengers between New York and Athens, or what’s their strategy here? The 787 is a long range aircraft and could easily fly the route nonstop, which is why this is puzzling. I think it would’ve been smart to maybe replace the daily 777 service with two 787s spaced apart, to offer passengers more timing options.
Then again, maybe this route announcement is all a joke. After all, Qatar’s CEO, Akbar Al Baker, is known for blatantly making stuff up…
Can anyone rationalize this route?
Either way, I’m excited about it. Qatar Airways will be joining OneWorld soon, so flying between New York and Athens in business class on Qatar Airways will be a great use of AAdvantage miles at 100,000 miles roundtrip.
(Tip of the hat to Point Me to the Plane)