This week, Qatar Airways shared that it will launch flights to Seattle in March to tie in with Alaska Airlines’ oneworld membership. Since the announcement, Simple Flying spoke with Qatar Airways SVP of Revenue Management, Alliances and Strategy, Mark Drusch, about what can be expected from the launch to the city.
Drusch summarized the exciting move with three key points. Each factor is equally as important as the other, and they combine to ensure a progressive service for the airline.
“Number one, we’ve continued flying to the United States throughout the pandemic very successfully. Number two, a major portion of the success of our service to the US is our partnerships, particularly with American Airlines, which we fortunately just signed in February, just before the pandemic really hit, as well as our existing partnership with JetBlue. So, based on those two, we’ve continued to see success flying to the US and even expanding our service in the US,” Drusch told Simple Flying.
“And number three, with Alaska coming onboard with oneworld, we absolutely were ready to add the last big city on the West Coast that we hadn’t started yet. So it clearly is the right direction to go based on both our past success and the future opportunity with Alaska as a partner.”
Catering to demand
Drusch further elaborated on the passenger segments that will be served with this expansion. He explained that there are three components to the services that will make it successful.
The first factor is the core business traffic and, in particular, the traffic from the Northwest into, what the airline calls its area of excellence, which is the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Indian subcontinent. For instance, there’s a significant amount of business traffic between the Northwest and countries such as India.
The second aspect is regarding the diaspora traffic. Cities such as Seattle and San Francisco have a diverse and dispersed population of immigrants and first-generation Americans from several parts of the world. The airline has discovered different pockets of market segments when it has been planning its routes. For example, it found a sizeable population of Somali Americans and Somali residents in the Northwest. So these services will appeal to these audiences.
Thirdly, Drusch emphasizes that his company serves some of the most exciting and, in many ways, untouched leisure destinations of the world. These operations are having a notable resurgence right now as people begin to start to fly again. These destinations include Seychelles, Tanzania, Zanzibar, and the Maldives. Travelers looking to hit the skies to visit these leisure spots form an important part of the expected traffic.
Serving the continent well
Altogether, Qatar Airways feels that the activity of the North American routes, including the Canadian operations, continues to be strong. Drusch shares that this is the reason why the carrier not only continued flying throughout the pandemic but added frequencies and routes while expanding into new markets.
The businessman concluded that the US is always one of the first markets to recover from any kind of global disruption. Therefore, there is hope for the aviation industry on a global scale heading into 2021.
What are your thoughts about Qatar Airways’ plans for Seattle? Are you looking forward to flying on this route? Let us know what you think of the operations in the comment section.