Interesting: Qatar Airways Is Leasing A350s From LATAM

Qatar Airways was the first ever airline to fly the A350. I was lucky enough to attend their A350 delivery ceremony in Toulouse a couple of years ago. Qatar Airways has had some delays with taking delivery of further A350s, and for that matter, has experienced delays with taking delivery of new planes in general.

Qatar-Airways-A350-02

This has caused them to push off some routes, and look for creative ways to get the planes they need. So far Qatar Airways has 13 A350-900s in their fleet, with a further 30 on order.

Well, it seems like they’re not getting those planes in the timeframe they were hoping for, and have a creative way of acquiring more A350s quickly. Qatar Airways will be leasing four A350s from LATAM, which have significantly different configurations.

LATAM’s A350s have 348 seats, including 30 business class seats, 18 extra legroom economy seats, and 300 economy seats. Their business class product features fully flat seats in a 2-2-2 configuration, so there’s not direct aisle access from every seat.

LATAM-A350-Business-Class-2

Meanwhile Qatar Airways’ A350s have 283 seats, including 36 reverse herringbone business class seats and 247 economy seats.

Qatar-Airways-A350-Business-Class-30

This is a pretty big downgrade for Qatar Airways passengers, as the business and economy cabins on LATAM’s A350s aren’t nearly as good as on Qatar’s A350s.

Qatar-Airways-A350-Business-Class-69

Qatar Airways hasn’t formally published any details of this deal, though sources suggest that:

  • The planes will be re-registered with Qatar Airways registration numbers
  • The first A350 is on a one year lease, while the second A350 is on a six month lease; we’re not sure about the other two A350s
  • Qatar Airways will reconfigure the LATAM planes to remove the extra legroom seats, though won’t be changing the economy or business class seats
  • The planes will be painted with a hybrid LATAM and Qatar Airways livery, as it will take too much time to repaint them completely

Qatar Airways will fly the leased LATAM A350s on the following routes:

  • Doha to Munich once daily as of March 1, 2017
  • Doha to Munich twice daily as of April 1, 2017
  • Doha to Madrid once daily as of April 15, 2017
  • Doha to Madrid twice daily as of May 1, 2017

This is certainly an unique short term solution for both airlines. LATAM isn’t doing very well financially given the economy in Brazil. Their financial situation isn’t the same it was when they ordered the planes. Meanwhile Qatar Airways wants all the planes they can get their hands on. Unfortunately in this case, though, it comes at the expense of the quality of their product.

Bottom line

Don’t be surprised if you see unusual seatmaps for some Qatar Airways A350s, as it’s due to them leasing planes from LATAM. From a customer standpoint I think it’s probably neutral news. It’s bad news since this is worse than Qatar Airways’ current A350 product. However, I’d say the product is about on par with Qatar Airways’ 777 product, so it’s not necessarily worse than what you’d otherwise get on Qatar Airways.

What do you make of Qatar Airways leasing A350s from LATAM?

Comments

  1. Qatar has a total of 80 A350 orders, so they have 67 unfilled orders. I think you weren’t including A350-1000 orders.

  2. Lucky – my guess is that they are holding back now on purpose regarding receiving new A350 – they will want to deploy the next batch featuring their new Business Class to be unveiled next month… So the LATAM deal helps to bridge that delivery gap they or their seat supplier created…

  3. I’ll be on the Munich route in May, and was looking forward to this because I really like the QR A350. Now, after DOH-WDH has been downgraded from B787 to A330, also the other leg has been changed. Great …

  4. Isn’t it the case that there are a few (10+) planes in TLS for Qatar Airways, but they’re waiting to release the new business class seat. I guess then the manufacturer needs to produce them and eventually they’ll be installed. Until then we won’t know whether it’s true or not!

  5. Lucky, i don’t know the Latam’s a350 coach class but the business one is a pretty solid product, much more confortable and spacious than Qatars herringbone, in my opinion. The aisle access is a negative point, however the space and layout is kinda similar to qatars a380 first class layout (similar!).

  6. Lucky, I have flown LATAM’s A350 on the MAD-GRU leg several times. Actual flight experience in their Premium Business cabin was excellent. Of course, due to the 2-2-2 configuration it’s much better when traveling with your couple than when alone. In spite of this, the LATAM agents managed to get the seat next to me empty when flying alone, so it was even better as I got to use one seat to lounge and watch movies and the other as a bed. They offer turndown service and the bed is very comfortable.

    Regarding this lease from QR, I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a downgrade, as I believe QR is aiming to deploy this leased A350s in routes where they don’t currently use their own, so it may even be an upgrade or at least a match to the experience passengers would get with QR’s own metal.
    One of the remarkable things about LATAM’s A350s is that they were looking shiny and new every time I flew them, and in much better shape than LATAM’s own B787-9.

  7. I don’t care about Qatar but LATAM downgraded Sao Paulo – Milan from A350 to 767 and reduced Sao Paulo – Paris A350 service to 3 weekly flights. I believe they also changed their Miami and Orlando flights. Only advantage is that a mixed LATAM and Qatar crew will be fun to fly with.

  8. At least they are being specific about the routes those planes will fly so you don’t have to play Russian roulette

    Arguably the product is no worse than on QR’s own A330s and 777s which they could have changed the flights to

  9. @You dont score says: Well, the downgrade on Sao Paulo-Milan can be seen as a win since the first announcement was to cancel that route completely.

  10. Being 2-2-2 in Business Class in QR would be bad if all their business class seats in all of their planes where 1-2-1. But there are so many QR routes operated with planes that contain 2-2-2 class seats…
    So I don’t get all the bad attention.

    And I’ve also tried the JJ C class seat. They are huge and very comfortable. I am tall and I was able to sleep without bending my legs.

  11. I think this is a really interesting thing happening at QR.

    I agree with the people that says this is not a downgrade, for 2 reasons:

    1 – they will deploy these planes NOT replacing their own ones for these LATAM ones; I mean, if you are used to fly QR 350 and you ever book for example seat 2A (like I always do), it will NOT happen that suddenly on your 2A you will find somebody else seating next to you. It “may” be a downgrade if these planes start operating let’s say on the SIN-DOH flights, for example.

    2 – the Business Class cabin in the LATAM 350 is practically the same as the QR 777, even better than QR 330; and I am sure that many people like the open space in the QR 777 cabin (me too, but always choose 3E in this case; so to avoid to jump over anybody or viceversa).

    I have not personally flown on LATAM’s 350s but my sisters have done it and they said it was very comfy and open. And by the picture above, even 2-2-2, it looks nice.
    So, in terms of hard product, I don’t think this will be really a downgrade; as some people said, in some cases it may even be an upgrade.

    I’m concerned for the people in the back, since I guess economy class on LATAM’s 350 is quite more crowded and so restricted in space.

    In the front, the important thing continues being the one related to the soft product my friends.
    I would not care if I have to fly on a LATAM’s plane (if when choosing the seat I find the correct map, I will ever choose 3E or similar, as I said), provided that I will receive the service I am used to in my tons of QR Business Class flights.
    For me, that’s the most important thing.
    If the seat becomes fully flat and when seated, I have tons of space (like in JJ’s 350 or QR’s 777); that’s it, I do not request anything else. But if the service fails, or is downgraded, then I will not be happy.

    Regarding the new Business Class seats, I cannot wait to see what they will offer.
    Will it be something much more similar to they current First Class seats in the 380s?
    To be honest, maybe some people will disagree, I think that if we compare the First Class seats of QR with the ones from Garuda or SQ for example, QR will be below.
    But if those seats, or similar, became the Business Class ones, then it would be a huge difference; you know what I mean? And in terms of service, there is no difference between F and C in QR: same menus, same table setting, same entertainment, same headphones, etc. Maybe only difference the brand of the champagnes (and sometimes not even that).
    So, why QR could not set a whole new Business Class based on their current First Class seats and actually remove that First Class which is only available on 6 or 7 current planes? (In that case, it would be interesting to see what they do with their massive Al Safwa lounge, haha).

    I guess I already went away from the original topic, sorry for that, but one thing took me to the next.
    Let’s see what comes.
    Cheers,
    Alejandro

  12. From another blog: “It is worth noting that the LATAM Airbus A350 has not chosen to include the “more humidity” option which means you are likely to wake up with dry skin and nose.”

  13. Is it genuinely “unique” for an airline to lease a plane or two from a partner airline?

    I’m possibly imagining this, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it happen dozens of times?

  14. Damn! I’m flying Sydney/Doha/Munich in late April and was very much looking to the combo of the A380 ex-Sydney and the A-350 ex Doha. I’m in 3a on the Doha-Munich leg and now I find I may have a pax next to me, when I was expecting to snuggle down and sleep for a few more hours iin complete privacy. Groan…

    Still,on the upside, I guess it’s still an A350 on the Doha-Munich leg, which is better than a 777. And I hope the service and dining is up to Qatar’s usual high standard. But I’m a bit disappointed nevertheless, not to experience the Qatar A350 – about which I have heard such good things. On the return trip, I’m taking the evening Qatar JFK to Doha service which is a 777, and so will miss the Qatar A350 on the return as well, as the A350 only operates the morning JFK to Doha service. Oh well – first world problem I guess.

  15. As a comment to Mr. Alejandro,
    IT IS a downgrade as QR is replaicing its own A350 on the Munich – Doha route, with the lease LATAM ones. Of course they still charge the same price for it.
    I know these seats from Air India and I can tell you the picture above is not the reality. Yes its a flat bed seat, but you dont have any place to store your personal belongings safe – and be aware, its very easy to loose the phone, wallet or a cable in the lot of gaps between divider and seat….and then it gets nasty…
    The QR B777 seats are much more better, even they cannot compete with the QR A350 / A380 seats.
    So all in all you get a worse product for the same (relatively) high price – so you would be happy about?

  16. March 15, 2017, just before boarding QR 59 at Doha to Munich Qatar informed us about the LATAM A350 plane. On my flight to Doha in february I still enjoyed the comfort of the QR A350 plane. Compared to this the economy class of the LATAM A350 is like many others carriers with a lack of comfort and leg space which is essential for me at size 1,94m. So in the future for me there is no reason to book and pay extra to Qatar for their connection from Munich to far east through doha. Also I have the impression that Qatar is not well prepared for this plane change. This time all economy passengers were mainly assigned to rows further back. Many rows in front were empty and were not available at the online checkin and checkin counter. In the end I got a better seat but for me Qatar lost a big part of it’s reputation.

  17. Just boarded on DOH-DXB and surprised to see Latam plane with QR staff and amenities. Never flew “proper” QR 350 therefore can’t compare. Pitch is great, seat witdh not much, but I believe all are using the 3 3 3 layout. 9 inch screen it’s a bit small, but what I’m finding quite embarrassing is the tiny shaky armrest. I was expecting something better by this acclaimed 350,cool thing is the massive windows

  18. There are no reasons to complain about this business class. Great seats with plenty of space. Had it on 50 Minutes flight from DOH to DXB. Beeing used to Lufthansa short haul Business product this is the paradise.

  19. @ Nikolaus
    Nobody seriously will complain about a 50min flight – the complaints are in concern to long haul flights and there, compared to the “normal Qatar A350”, it´s indeed reasonable to complain about….
    Compare apples with apples, Mr. Nikolaus 😉

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