Why Qatar Airways Is Launching Seattle Flights With The Boeing 777

Tomorrow, Qatar Airways will begin flights to Seattle from Doha. The flag carrier of Qatar will use its Boeing 777 aircraft to launch flights to the West Coast hub. This week, Simple Flying spoke with Qatar Airways SVP of Revenue Management, Alliances and Strategy, Mark Drusch, about why the 777 was the aircraft of choice for this service.

Qatar Airways Boeing 777-2DZ(LR) A7-BBF
The Boeing 777 has the honor of launching Qatar Airways’ operations to Seattle, Washington, a city that the Middle Eastern carrier is eager to fly to. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | JFKJets.com

Three key reasons

The route to Seattle was initially going to be launched with an Airbus A350 in rotation in March. However, the inauguration was brought forward by two months and the aircraft to perform this flight was changed to a 777. The widebody will fly to the Pacific Coast city four times a week from January 29th.

Drusch explained why the 777 was chosen for this launch. Despite the understandable reasonings when it comes to cargo requirements, the 777 won’t necessarily be the permanent aircraft on the route. The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners may take over after work has been completed in their cabins. He told us,

“First of all, we are a major Boeing customer, out of respect for Boeing, let’s start with the 777, number one. Number two, we are expecting a significant cargo, so we’ll take advantage of that. And number three, ultimately, we will put, probably, the 787-9 into Seattle.

“We’ll start with one aircraft; we’ll see how aircraft become available or needed on other parts of the system and we’ll move them around as required as markets perform or outperform or grow better than we expected as cargo continues to increase.

“And then, once the 787-9s are fully outfitted, then that probably is going to be the perfect aircraft for Seattle. But then again, quite honestly, what we’re seeing as our initial traffic flows between us and Alaska in Seattle, the 787-9, a year from now, may be too small.”

Qatar 787 & British Airways A380 Getty
Qatar Airways may introduce its Dreamliners on the route to Seattle, but plans may change again if passenger activity improves in the future after the tough conditions across the market improve. Photo: Getty Images

A dynamic fleet

There will be dynamism when it comes to aircraft on this service. Drusch explains that this is the nature of the industry. Moreover, Qatar Airways is often not shy to change aircraft on its routes if it feels it is the best move.

Notably, one widebody that is missing from this discussion is the A380. Qatar Airways received its first superjumbo just seven years ago. However, the global health crisis forced the carrier to ground its entire fleet of 10 units. Subsequently, this month, CEO Akbar Al Baker, confirmed half of the A380s won’t fly for the operator again.

Overall, the 777, 787, and A350 continue to play a crucial role in Qatar Airways’ operations. Each type has its own position within the fleet structure. Furthermore, as the company transitions over the next few years with its aircraft outfitting and adjustments amid the pandemic, it’s natural that there will be changes when it comes to deployment.

Qatar Boeing 777-300 Getty
In a two-class cabin setup, the Boeing 777 has 42 seats in business class and 312 in the economy cabin. Photo: Getty Images

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Modern requirements

Al Baker claims that the A380 is one of the worst planes in the air regarding emissions and overall efficiency. Drusch’s comments about the A350 and the 787 somewhat back the chief executive’s points. Altogether, the company is moving towards a more sustainable approach across the board.

“I think the single most important sustainability effort is the heavy investment we have in the 350 and 787’s. As I’m sure you know, the 350 burns significantly less. It produces 80% less carbon emissions than a 380, as an example.

“So, by operating an aircraft that is so green and so focused on reducing both carbon and other pollutant emissions, we’re moving forward and helping the industry see what is the right thing to do for the environment and for customers,” Drusch added.

“As you know, we have other components of carbon offset that we offer. We are constantly focused, even within the headquarters, on renewable resources to eliminate things like plastics. Just as a minor but really cool example, two weeks ago, my admin went down to get me a salad, and we’ve changed all of the silverware that comes with it to wooden silverware that is from woods that are fast-growing and not endangered woods as opposed to plastics. So it’s focused on all those things.”

Qatar A380
It is clear that Qatar Airways is focused on flying particular widebodies going ahead while the Airbus A380 remains grounded. Photo: Getty Images

Changes to come

So, with the airline concentrating on running operations with modern, efficient aircraft, the current crop of passenger 777s will also make way. However, this doesn’t mean that the overall type will no longer fly with the carrier. The operator is looking forward to the highly-anticipated 777X. Boeing announced just yesterday that it won’t deliver its first unit of the model until late 2023. So, it’s likely that Qatar Airways’ 777-300s will still be prevalent until at least then.

Qatar Airways, Global Connectivity, Recovery
In total, Qatar Airways has a total of 81 Boeing 777 aircraft within its fleet, mixed between passenger and cargo variants. Photo: Getty Images

Altogether, Qatar Airways is evidently excited about its launch of flights to Seattle. It will be looking to make the most out of its new partnership with Alaska Airlines with the move. Undoubtedly, the carrier will adapt its operations to the city over the years as the aviation industry continues to transform. There will be a clearer understanding of the requirements when it comes to aircraft after the dust settles following the current impact of the pandemic.

What are your thoughts about Qatar Airways’ launch to Seattle from Doha tomorrow? Will you be looking to fly on this route this year? Also, do you feel that it is the right decision to start flights to the city with the Boeing 777? Let us know what you think of the plans in the comment section.