Whoa: Qatar Airways Will Launch Las Vegas To Doha Route

The IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) is going on in Dublin at the moment, which is sort of the biggest event of the year for airline industry executives. The leaders of many airlines attend, and discuss the state of the industry, and also do business. There are usually a few interesting announcements which come out of this event.

There’s also often quite a bit of contention, given the hostile state in the industry at the moment. You can always count on some great quotes from Qatar Airways’ CEO, Akbar Al Baker, who threatened to pull out of oneworld at last year’s AGM.

This year it looks like we’re getting an interesting new route announcement out of the event.

It’s being reported that Akbar Al Baker has stated that Qatar Airways will commence flights between Doha and Las Vegas as of January 2017, using a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

Las-Vegas-1
Las Vegas, Nevada

Now, I’m not sure I’d necessarily trust the timeline, or even take the route as fact at this point, as Al Baker is known for talking out of his you-know-what. For example, in January he announced Qatar Airways’ intentions to operate the world’s longest flight between Doha and Auckland, though that flight has experienced several delays, to the point that Emirates has beat them in launching nonstop service.

Las Vegas would be Qatar Airways’ 11th US destination, meaning they’d be the Gulf carrier serving the most US destinations (Emirates presently serves 10). However, Emirates beats Qatar in terms of overall capacity between the US and the Middle East.

Qatar-Airways-USA-Destinations

I’m a bit surprised to see that Qatar Airways chose Las Vegas as the next city to expand to. I suspect the route could generate quite a bit of low yield traffic (there are many people who want to visit Las Vegas, and there is quite a bit of “imported labor” there as well). Is the high yield traffic there, though?

I would have assumed Qatar Airways’ next US destination would be San Francisco.

This is the first new US destination announced by a Gulf carrier since Qatar Airways announced their Doha to Atlanta flight a bit over a year ago. In other words, since then all new routes have simply been matching other destinations already served by Gulf carriers. Perhaps the strategy is to launch a route to a destination not presently served by another Gulf carrier, as a way of trying to prevent others from launching a similar route?

Qatar-Airways-777-Business-Class-01
Qatar Airways’ 777 business class

What do you make of Qatar Airways launching flights between Doha and Las Vegas?

Comments

  1. It doesn’t much matter whether or not there are many high yield passengers or even that many passengers at all since the Qatari government has their back if the route isn’t profitable.

  2. That does seem like a bit of a head-scratcher.

    I believe the word you are looking for is “Whoa” not “woah” which I don’t even think is a word.

  3. It’ll be called the Goldilocks route. First class will be jammed on the way to Vegas and economy will be jammed on the way back.

  4. They should have done Phoenix and made a codeshare agreement with AA as their oneworld partner. seems like that should have been the obvious connecting route that would have made sense for both of them.

  5. I’m happy to have QR as an option from BOS, so I hope they don’t over-expand and end up cutting service from here.

  6. Thanks for the scoop! Always happy to hear about west coast international options.

    Who do you like better in business class, Etihad or Qatar? Now with ETihad F costing an arm and a leg in AA miles, I might have to consider J.

    Also, how does the seat compare to CX J?

  7. Odd move. It seems to me that the airline’s objectives are not aligned with that of the country’s sovereign fund. You have the Qatar sovereign fund investing in IAG (BA’s parent) and now you have Qatar Airways (QR) competing against BA. This is a bad use of resources (both cash and assets).
    To be honest, it makes more sense if QR would stop competing against BA and go for the others.
    How?
    Stop flying to US cities that are served by BA’s LHR base which is at least 40% transfer traffic reliant and concentrate on MCO and TPA where these routes are flown to LGW which is BA’s O&D traffic reliant. In other words, if QR serves 1) cities BA doesnt fly to (eg PDX, MSY, STL) and/or 2) cities BA flies to from LGW (TPA, MCO), QR will ensure it doesnt screw its partner airline BA and doesnt screw it’s own country investment in IAG.
    Looks to me QR’s strategy department is run by one only, and that’s the CEO1

  8. Fantastic. Based on the fare issue from both LAX & SFO, I personally think this is a great addition to an extensive route-network.
    If they can make money? I doubt that, but what the heck. Barrels of oil are still available for less then USD 50.

  9. @Mileage Man:

    PHX doesn’t have CDG or NRT service. DOH service is seriously smoking something (or maybe just mainlining heroin) if your market can’t even support Paris or Tokyo. I mean, really, who wants to fly 15 hours to the middle of the freakin’ desert from the middle of the freakin’ desert?

    You might also notice that QR already serves DFW, LAX, ORD and PHL, so it’s not like there already isn’t plenty of access to AA’s network. PHX gives you very little those four cities don’t.

    LAS makes some modest sense as a leisure destination out of DOH (though I can’t imagine it’ll be high yield, given that it gets LGW service from BA/VS, which is usually where they dump their vacation service). I would imagine it will be full of AA redeemers using AS for the connection to LAS, or positioning flights. So I guess yay for people with AA miles?

  10. Seems strange and low yield but I could see it maybe working. I think DEN would have been a better option, I wonder who or when will the first gulf carrier show up there.

  11. ”This is the first new destination announced by a Gulf carrier since Emirates announced their intentions to fly to Orlando over a year ago. In other words, since then all new routes have simply been matching other destinations already served by Gulf carriers.“

    But what about all the new destinations Qatar Airways launched this year, like Helsinki, Sarajevo and Windhoek? And what about the Doha – Atlanta route?

  12. @ Hugo — Good catch! Was referring to US routes, but you’re absolutely right about Atlanta. Updated the post to reflect that.

  13. HT, I don’t see Qatar competing with BA here. If I’m in London and want t fly to the US then, as much as i might like Qatar, I’m not going to spend hours travelling in the wrong direction just for the privilege of changing planes.

    Where ME3 is eating BA’s lunch is from London to Asia because Doha is on the way and you often have to change flights anyway

  14. In addition to SFO, would QR ever consider SEA? Especially considering EK has two daily flights?

  15. Hard to believe anything they say these days.

    They announced flights to Chiang Mai back in March but that’s disappeared off the table as well.

  16. Great route addition. Flying to LAS but having to stopover in another US airport to catch the final domestic leg is a complete waste of time.

  17. i can see it 3-5 days a week , young visitors from the gulf states and the middle east love the vegas night life and they spend money like drunkin sailors with bottle service in the big nightclubs, the adults love the shows and the gambling, i work at the airport in las vegas and yes british airways has alot of connecting passengers to the gulf states.it will be interesting in the summer when long haul intl flights are restricted with the heat for take off, we are at 2200 feet altitude in the high desert,not sea level like the gulf states. even Norwegian is canceling summer serviced from las vegas to Scandinavian , the 787-8 cant fly out of here with a full load of passengers, it really messed up their already low cost operation

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