As part of the opening of the new Hamad International Airport in Doha today, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker announced that Qatar Airways’ third A380 destination would be New York JFK. Now, he hasn’t actually announced when the service will launch, but just that it’s the third destination.
- In April, Qatar Airways announced they’d launch A380 service to London as of June 17, 2014
- Last week, Qatar Airways announced they’d launch A380 service to Paris as of July 3, 2014
- Today, Qatar Airways announced they’d delay their A380 service to London until July 1, 2014
So what do I take away from this?
- The airline industry would be boring without His Excellency. If it weren’t for him and the Alaska/Delta drama, we’d be bored.
- His Excellency is the guy that denied Qatar Airways was even in talks with oneworld the day before they announced joining, so keep that in mind when judging all of his other announements.
- Qatar Airways flies to 130 destinations worldwide. The chances of New York JFK being the third destination are roughly 1 in 128. 😉
Okay, the last part isn’t totally true, but I do have a few thoughts on this:
New York JFK’s Terminal 8 isn’t equipped to handle A380s
Qatar Airways presently flies out of JFK’s Terminal 8 (American’s terminal), and it’s not equipped to handle A380s. I’m not sure if Qatar Airways has put any thought into that, but it would substantially change things. I suppose they could switch terminals, but that sure would complicate connections.
This is the next destination to get the A380, not necessarily the next flight
It’s worth noting that the above suggests that New York will be the third destination to get the Qatar Airways A380. That’s very different than being the third flight to get it. As of now London and Paris each have one A380 frequency announced, so it could very well be that they double or triple up on A380 frequencies on those routes before this supposed New York A380 frequency happens. In other words, this A380 service could very well just launch next year, if it happens at all.
Qatar Airways doesn’t presently offer a first class product to New York
If A380 service to New York actually happens, it would signify the first time Qatar Airways offers a first class product to the US. The New York route is presently operated by a 777-300ER, which is in a two cabin configuration. So if you’re more confident than I am that this service will actually happen in the next year, you can speculatively lock in a business class award, but there’s no way to lock in a first class award (so far Qatar Airways has been blocking all first and business class award space on their announced A380 routes).
Really I just report on this stuff because I get a kick out of His Excellency. I just dug up this video of Richard Quest hanging out with him back in 2012 at Hamad International Airport, and I think it really sums up what makes him fascinating:
That segment was filmed in January 2012, and at that point he was confident that the airport would be open by December 2012. He was only off by well over a year…
So to sum up what His Excellency was trying to say: “Hmmm, I think it would be nice if we offered A380 service to New York sometime.”