What Happened To Qatar Airways’ All Business Class Airbus A319LR?

Qatar Airways is one of the few major hub-and-spoke airlines with a diverse fleet, featuring both narrowbodies and widebodies. But did you know the carrier also operated two A319LRs in an all-business class configuration? These planes were used on popular routes for the carrier from its home in Doha. So what happened to these aircraft?

Qatar Airways Airbus A319LR
The A319 is one of the smallest aircraft in Airbus’ fleet, only larger than the A318 ‘baby bus’. Photo: Aldo Bidini via Wikimedia Commons

First customer

Qatar Airways was the launch customer for the Airbus A319LR, a long-range version of the popular A319 family. The carrier took delivery of two of these in February 2003 and December 2004, according to Planespotters.net. With a range of 4,500 nautical miles, this small aircraft could fly from Doha all the way to Singapore or London with ease.

Both planes were originally delivered in a fairly standard configuration: eight seats in business class and 102 in economy. This allowed the plane to make long-distance flights with lower demand and has previously been used on routes like Yangon-Doha.

Qatar Airways A319LR
The A319LR has an impressive range of 4,500 nautical miles, allowing it to reach destinations across Europe and East Asia. Photo: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt via Wikimedia Commons

However, nearly a decade into its service with Qatar, the carrier decided to upgrade the aircrafts’ cabins in 2014. The new cabin featured only 40 seats, all in a lie-flat business configuration for ultra-premium routes.

Known as the Qatar Airways Business One service, these planes were deployed as QR 15 and 16 from Doha to London. One of the airline’s highest-revenue routes, the all-business-class plane offered more personal attention and faster turnaround times. Plus, the few seats gave the aircraft a more private jet feel.

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End of service

Qatar Airways cut the Doha-London Business One service in November 2015, replacing it with the Boeing 787 and later the A350-1000. However, Qatar didn’t give up on the A319 just yet. The planes later found themselves on the Doha-Dubai shuttle service in late 2016, another popular business-heavy route.

In January 2017, Qatar Airways ended its all-business class A319 services for good. However, the planes didn’t exit the fleet and instead returned to their original 110 seat configuration. This saw the aircraft return to their original mission of flying long-haul, low demand routes.

Qatar Airways A319
Qatar Airways finally returned the planes to their original 110 seat layout in 2017. Photo: Per aspera ad Astra via Wikimedia Commons

Nowadays, the A319s can be found on a variety of routes. After flying from Yangon to Doha (a six-hour, 2,900NM flight) for a while, the planes have found themselves on various missions during the pandemic.

A7-CJB is currently operating routes to Tehran, Kozhikode, Ahmedabad, New Delhi, Najaf, and other nearby cities. A7-CJA was flying to Muscat, Kiembi Samaki and even to Nice, but hasn’t been used since June. Lower demand means this 110-seat jet can easily fill up with lower operating costs.

Not the only premium service

Qatar Airways isn’t the only airline to try out a premium-only cabin layout. For over a decade, Britsh Operated the iconic BA1 service from London City to New York with an Airbus A318. The aircraft featured only 32 business class seats and was truly a unique experience. However, the route was canceled last year due to falling demand and the pandemic.

British Airways Airbus A318-100 climbing out after take-off
British Airways recently retired its popular all-business class A318. Photo: Getty Images

However, for those who can afford to fly in private business class flights, the market still has many options for you! For the rest of us, modern business class on widebody aircraft offers some of the comfortable seats out there.

Did you have a chance to fly the Qatar A319LR in business class? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!