Qatar Airways looks set to launch Airbus A350-1000 services to both Perth and Adelaide. Sydney is set to see the plane in Qatari livery in November this year, but according to comments made in an interview with Qatar Airways CEO, Akbar Al Baker, Perth and Adelaide are in the box seat to be the next Australian cities to see the factory fresh long-range aircraft.
Alex Macheras from Aviation Analyst interviewed Akbar Al Baker earlier in September. In a wide-ranging conversation, Mr Macheras talked to the Qatar Airways CEO about the A350-1000 and his plans for that aircraft. In the conversation, Akbar Al Baker said the two smaller Australian international airports were on his radar as Qatar Airways rolled out its A350-1000 services.
“We’re going to start A350-1000 XWB flights to the Australian cities of Perth and Adelaide.”
The Qatar A350-1000 is already heading to Australia
Sydney and Canberra will be the first Australian cities to see the Qatar Airways A350-1000, with the airline swapping out a Boeing 777-300ER for the A350-1000 from November 16, 2019, on one of its daily flights to Sydney and Canberra. Until now, there had been no further word from Doha about which Australian city would next see the aircraft.
Whilst Qatar doesn’t fly to Brisbane because it has used up all its traffic rights to the big Australian airports, it does send an A380 into Melbourne each day. Melbourne might have been the obvious airport for the next A350-1000 in Australia. But that’s a popular and well-patronized flight and why tinker with something that clearly works?
Interesting choice of airports
Perth and Adelaide are both interesting choices. They are both smaller airports in terms of passenger numbers and airlines flying in. Perth had 4,333,913 international passenger movements in the year ending June 30, 2019, and is served by 19 international airlines. Adelaide had 1,061,511 international passenger movements in the year ending June 30, 2019, and is served by just nine international airlines.
Qatar already flies into both airports. There is a daily 777-300ER service to Perth and a daily A350-900 service into Adelaide. Qatar Airways flights to Adelaide have only been running since 2016. At the time, this was the first route into Australia to see an A350. It’s proved a big hit with Adelaide locals who appreciate a premium service airline serving their city and the outstanding business class product.
Why would Qatar look to Adelaide and Perth?
Both Perth and Adelaide are poorly served by Qantas international services (or, in Adelaide’s case, not served at all). In both cities, there has been some backlash against Australia’s national carrier over this, and a switch towards carriers that do serve the cities. Qatar is one of the beneficiaries of this trend. By upping the caliber of aircraft on the routes, it suggests a willingness by Qatar Airways to exploit Qantas’ negligence of the two cities. In addition, there is decent enough patronage of the Qatar flights by local residents to make the upgrade worthwhile.
Zac George in Points From The Pacific certainly thinks it’s a win for both cities. He notes the Qatar A350-1000s have the Q Suites, arguably the best business class product in the world. But the A350-900s have also been progressively fitted with Q Suites too, and these feature on the existing flights to Adelaide.
The biggest change will be the larger aircraft. The Qatar Airways A350-1000 seats 46 passengers in business and 281 passengers in economy. The slightly smaller A350-900 seats 36 passengers in business and 247 passengers in economy.
Akbar Al Baker didn’t reveal dates for the proposed rollout of the A350-1000 to either Perth or Adelaide. Simple Flying contacted Qatar Airways to clarify this, but received no response prior to publication.