Qatar Airways Shifts A380 Focus From Paris To Bangkok

While Emirates has more A380s than they know what to do with, Etihad and Qatar actually took a pretty conservative strategy when it comes to A380 acquisitions (one of the few areas in which those carriers are conservative). They each have just 10 A380s on (firm) order, so they won’t be flying them to every destination in the world just for giggles, as Emirates does.

Emirates-A380-First-Class-01

Etihad Airways has been pretty clear about their strategy, given how exceptional their A380s are. They’ll fly them to London, New York, and Sydney, so that they’re exclusive and they can offer a consistent experience in those markets. Unless they decide to order more A380s, I wouldn’t expect to see them in any other markets.

Etihad-A380-First-Apartment-01

Qatar Airways has been a bit less clear when it comes to their A380 strategy. They took delivery of their first A380 last year (I was on the inaugural flight from Doha to London), which they first flew to London, then to Paris, and then (surprisingly) to Bangkok.

Qatar-Airways-A380-First-Class-113

What makes Qatar Airways’ A380 especially interesting is that it’s the only plane on which they plan on offering a first class product long term, as they think first class is obsolete and would rather offer a “super business class.”

Qatar-Airways-A380-First-Class-001

While London and Paris are logical A380 destinations, Bangkok sort of surprised me. Admittedly Doha to Bangkok is a high capacity route, but presumably not an especially high yield one. That’s why I was kind of surprised they’d use their “flagship” aircraft on that route, rather than adding A380 capacity to London Heathrow, or possibly flying it to New York JFK.

This doesn’t have huge practical implications, but I do find it quite interesting that Qatar Airways seems to be committed to providing A380 service to Bangkok. Qatar Airways has just announced that they’ll reduce A380 service to Paris from 2x daily to 1x daily, while offering 2x daily A380 service to Bangkok instead.

As of September 16, 2015, the following Doha to Paris flight will no longer be operated by the A380:

QR41 Doha to Paris departing 1:40AM arriving 7:25AM
QR42 Paris to Doha departing 10:30AM arriving 5:55PM

Meanwhile as of September 16, 2015, the following Doha to Bangkok flight will be operated by the A380:

QR830 Doha to Bangkok departing 9:00PM arriving 7:25AM (+1 day)
QR831 Bangkok to Doha departing 9:05AM arriving 11:55AM

The great news is that Qatar AirwaysĀ seem to have two first class award seats available almost every day on the new A380 frequency between Doha and Bangkok (you can use the British Airways award search tool to look up space).

QR-A380-F-2

QR-A380-F-1

As a reminder, American AAdvantage charges 45,000 miles for a one-way first class award between the Middle East and Asia.

Given that Qatar Airways is usually quite stingy with A380 first class award space, that’s a nice development.

Bottom line

The Middle Eastern airlines are largely prestige driven, so it’s kind of surprising to me that Qatar Airways is adding more A380 service to Bangkok rather than more “premium” markets. They must be achieving some pretty great premium cabin yields in order to dedicate so much of their (small) A380 fleet to the route.

Or maybe the royal family just really likes vacationing in Bangkok. šŸ˜‰

Where would you like to see Qatar Airways fly the A380?

Comments

  1. You can’t, on the one hand, criticize the US airlines for protectionism and claim that they’re wrong about the gulf carriers, and then on the other hand claim that Emirates flies A380s to everywhere in the world for giggles [and therefore not a profit-motivated, conscientious business decision]. Either they’re truly a profitable airline or they’re not, but you need to pick a narrative…

  2. Perhaps the lower total cost of a trip to Bangkok allows people to splurge more on the flight?

  3. The reason for this probably is the fact that many people with both deep pockets and average joes vacation in Thailand. Hamad is a connection airport btw

  4. Puhhh..what a luck. Will fly from CDG 1week before they switch the plane:) What do you think Ben…the QR First Lounge won’t be finished until September, right?

  5. Like you I am surprised at Bangkok as being a destination they choose for the A380. I am surprised they didn’t upgauge JFK or London.

    What is Qatar’s lounge like in Bangkok? Do you have a review? Do they use the Cathay Pacific Lounge or do they have their own lounge, especially with 4 daily flights and 2x A380 flights.

  6. @ Greg –

    Qatar doesn’t have a lounge in Bangkok. They direct you to the Thai lounges in the E concourse, which seemed perfectly adequate to me. I’m surprised, too, that QR is using their A380’s on this route. When I flew them last month in J, it did not look like an expense account crowd to me, but I guess you never know. The onboard lounge was sweet, as Lucky has reported, but it was practically empty. I have to wonder how long these onboard lounges will last. I feel like it’s just a matter of time before they are reduced or replaced by seats.

  7. @ Lantean — I guess ultimately they just have a very limited number of A380s, and it would take two of them to operate a JFK frequency.

  8. @ Justin — I don’t have a “narrative.” I think there’s merit to what both sides are arguing.

  9. I’m not as lucky as Philip, I was booked on the A380 from Paris to Doha in F in October, and my reservation now shows the flight will be operated by an A330 šŸ™
    What a disappointment !!

  10. I flew the QR 380 from Bangkok last month. It was packed in business, but I was still able to buy an exceptionally cheap fare. Can’t imagine it’s that high yielding.

    Their new biz seat really is great. Service top notch. Genuinely impressed.

  11. I fly on QR831 on the 19th on an AA Biz award, and my reservation still shows 773 as the aircraft. Going to the seat selection shows 773 also. BA website also shows 773 with no first class offered. Guess I’ll find out in a few days. Pretty stoked if they do swap it on schedule!

  12. Wow! why are you come to Bangkok. lol
    I live in Bangkok i was since. That place is beautiful really.
    Welcome to Bangkok šŸ™‚

  13. Hi Lucky, like Adrien I’m currently booked on CDG-DOH on QR42 which I booked as an AA award – given the change in planes now – would I be able to ask for a free cancellation or change?

    Thanks

  14. @ Bernice — Technically not since you’re still in the same class of service and the schedule has changed. That being said, if you call and get a good agent, they should be able to make an exception.

  15. I was able to snag two first class seats on CAI-DOH-BKK-DOH-CAI using 65k Smiles miles. I just found out on FT (and confirmed on QRĀ“s webpage) that in BKK first class passengers are invited to TGĀ“s first class lounge! I just hope that by march 2016 the first class lounge in DOH will be opened šŸ™‚ to make this trip even nicer.

  16. Just booked QR 830/831 for under 500ā‚¬ return in F. Wonder why you didn’t mention this unique award fare by GOL in your blog.

  17. @ Lucky – looks like QR42 CDG-DOH on 9/16 is still operated by an A380? On the airlineroute.net, it says “As of September 16, 2015,” is this the last day it will be operated by an A380 or will there be an aircraft swap still on this day to a non-A380?

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