Qatar Airways’ Next A380 Destination Is… Perth?!

As far as the “big three” Gulf carriers go, Qatar Airways has the smallest fleet of Airbus A380 aircraft. While Qatar Airways has only eight of them in their fleet, Emirates has over 100 of the super jumbos in their fleet. As a result, Qatar Airways has been a lot more selective with which routes get the A380.

Qatar Airways’ first A380 destination out of Doha was London, followed by Paris, and then Bangkok. After that, Qatar also added A380 flights to Guangzhou, Melbourne, and Sydney. Well, Qatar Airways has now announced their next A380 destination, which certainly caught me off guard.

Qatar Airways will be launching daily A380 flights between Doha and Perth as of May 1, 2018. While Qatar has been nicely growing in Australia, I didn’t see this one coming. The flight operates with the following schedule:

QR900 Doha to Perth departing 2:00AM arriving 6:25PM
QR901 Perth to Doha departing 11:05PM arriving 5:45AM (+1 day)

This is Qatar’s shortest route to Australia (given that Perth is on the west coast), and it covers a distance of ~5,800 miles, and is blocked at 11hr25min eastbound and 11hr40min westbound. The flight is also timed to optimize connections to various points in Europe and elsewhere.

At the moment this route is operated by a Boeing 777-300ER. Not only does this upgrade to an A380 represent a huge increase in capacity, but it also represents a very nice upgrade to the onboard product. Unlike the 777, the A380 features a first class cabin, consisting of a total of eight seats, spread across two rows in a 1-2-1 configuration.

Qatar-Airways-A380-First-Class-003
Qatar’s A380 first class

Qatar-Airways-A380-First-Class-004
Qatar’s A380 first class

The A380 also has a great reverse herringbone business class product in a 1-2-1 configuration, similar to what Qatar Airways has on the A350.

Qatar-Airways-A380-First-Class-12
Qatar’s A380 business class

Qatar-Airways-A380-First-Class-039
Qatar’s A380 business class

There’s also an onboard bar on the A380, which I’d argue is the nicest one in the sky.

Qatar-Airways-A380-First-Class-077
Qatar’s A380 bar

All of that is a huge improvement over Qatar Airways’ current 777 business class product, which is mediocre at best. It’s one thing if the 777-300ER flying to Perth were presently rostered with Qatar’s new Qsuites, though that’s not the case, and only a few routes have those seats as of now.

Qatar-Airways-777-1
Qatar’s current 777 business class

With the current schedule, Australia now has three Qatar Airways A380 routes, while the US has none. I guess that doesn’t come as much of a surprise, given the low yields that the Gulf carriers generally have on US routes, and that we’ve seen them canceling routes rather than adding routes lately.

If you’re looking to redeem miles for first class on Qatar Airways’ flight between Doha and Perth, there’s good news. Many flights seem to have two first class award seats available. The bad news is that it’s tough to score much of a deal on those awards nowadays. American AAdvantage charges 100,000 miles for a one-way ticket, while British Airways Executive Club charges 120,000 Avios.

What do you make of Qatar’s next A380 destination being Perth?

(Tip of the hat to AusBT)

Comments

  1. I think they’ve done this in reply to Qantas starting service between PER-LHR next March. Given that the majority of passengers from Perth are flying on to Europe anyway, the A380 gives them a superior option, especially on the DOH/PER (longer route). Basically, they’re saying, do you want to spend 18 hours in a 3-3-3 Boeing 789 in economy (Qantas), or at least the majority of it in a more comfortable A380 (I would argue the J product is pretty much on-par though)? However, I am surprised they didn’t opt for the A350 like they did for Adelaide, as I have a feeling they’re not exactly full on the route. Good news for Perth though!

  2. As with all matters involving QR scheduling, I will take this with a liberal pinch of salt.

    I seem to recall that those of us in PER were once told that we would be one of, if not the first, QR route serviced by 787 – never happened. Then we were told that the 777 would be replaced by an A350 service – never happened.

    So while we may indeed be getting the A380, it may be ditched before it even happens, or only run during the northern summer scheduling period. Yields out of PER appear to be very healthy though, so I think QR want to compete more fully with EK’s A380 service and perhaps they’re trialling this to see if it’s more profitable than some of the Asian destinations?

    Having flown the existing 777 J product earlier this year, I’m actually a big fan of the present configuration and will be rather sad to see it go.

  3. I am not sure why you think the yields on Qatar flights to and from the US are low. Both my parents and I have flown Qatar business class many times from DFW and ATL and every time the flight have been full. Last minute fares aren’t cheap either from the US to suggest depressed yields.

    Their business class is by far the best I have ever experienced, i would easily pay a premium to fly Qatar business over another airline.

  4. @Dave, CAN is still showing on the schedule next August. I was thinking on booking this for next year but worried they will remove the A380 from the route. If you look on EF seat map, there a some flights from DOH-CAN in the next few weeks where a handful of people are booked. Like a week from today, 0F, 7J and about 50 in Y

  5. I also think it might attract the Aussie- Euro-UK traveller who might not want to do a ultra-long haul. I prefer not to and would rather have a break enroute. The A380 is very attractive. Flew QR A380 BKK-DOH-VIE in F and J for 70K AA miles last year. Loved the open, spacious, well designed F cabin. J in the 787 was just OK, on par with other carriers. Would fly them in F again in a heart beat.

  6. As someone who was born and lives in Perth i am thrilled that Qatar is flying their A380 to Perth now we will have two daily A380 flights (Emirates is the second) and i will definitely be flying on it
    now all we need is Etihad to fly their A380 here.

  7. Perth was, for a time, the hottest economy amongst major Australian cities, but it’s been in the doldrums for a couple of years now, since the bloom is off the mineral extraction boom they’d been at the heart of. All of which makes me wonder who Qatar think will be utilizing this flight.

  8. This is the only way Qatar can add capacity to Perth. They are maxed out on bilateral rights in Australia so they can’t add any more frequencies – they need to use a bigger plane.

  9. I live in Perth so nice to see another A380 coming here along with Emirates… Have to try this maybe with Qantas points…

  10. There is massive demand from South Africa to Perth, due to a big population of South Africans living there. SAA JNB-PER is always full but a terrible experience and the ME3 are a far better value for South Africans and Africans generally.

  11. @mallthus

    Perth is the no.1 Australian destination for emigrant UK families – which itself is a very significantly sized group. Perth-UK flights have a huge market.

    Qantas is clearly gambling on a direct flight being attractive; Qatar seems to think a lot of us might prefer to break our journey (or to change at Doha for non-London UK destinations, rather than in the hellhole that is LHR).

    If I have to change flights anyway, I always prefer two long hauls to one ULH plus a regional jet – the latter severely restricts the size of my carryon and, travelling mostly for work, I never have hold luggage.

    A trip Sydney-Rio next year may involve changes at Santiago and Buenos Aires, to exploit Air Canada and Emirates 5th freedom flights on wide bodies, and avoiding connecting to LATAM or other regional jet flights (even though I then have 2 changes rather than one).

  12. What Jamie said.
    They are not allowed to add more frequencies so the only way they can grow capacity is by increasing aircraft size.

  13. @ Dennis – ” Basically, they’re saying, do you want to spend 18 hours in a 3-3-3 Boeing 789 in economy (Qantas), or at least the majority of it in a more comfortable A380″.

    The answer, for the majority of their customers, being “what’s a Boeing 789”? I also doubt the majority of those who do know the answer to that question really care either.

  14. Another very good possibility, but with some risk involved, is to use Brazilian mileage program Smiles from Gol. DOH-PER in F also costs 110k miles, but you can get those miles cheap.
    With 22k miles in your account plus U$738, you can book a F seat. You can get those 22k by crediting flights from Delta, Air France, Qatar… or for U$147, in 3 months, by signing up to their mileage club programs.
    Those same 110k miles would cost U$ 2.212 in AA’s current promotion.

  15. On a recent flight DOH-JFK. Chatting with a couple of the cabin crew about the upcoming Qsuites flights, they said there was also talk of bringing the a380 to JFK as well. Was hoping that would have come to fruition.

  16. As a previous commentator noted, the Perth/WA economy is no longer hot; but having said that, there is still a sizeable chunk of Europe-bound travellers from Western Australia (and indeed the east coast) who will happily utilize this upgraded service no matter the state of the economy. After nearly thirty years of periodically residing in Australia, it never ceases to amaze me how far and well-travelled the Australians are! Both inbound and outbound traffic to Asia, the U.S. and Europe are dominated by locals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *