Last updated: 12:48 PM ET, Mon May 04 2015

Qatar, Emirates Again Upping the Stakes

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | May 04, 2015

Qatar, Emirates Again Upping the Stakes

Much to the chagrin of an incredulous U.S. airline industry, Qatar Airways today announced the introduction of three new routes from Doha to the U.S. — three of the largest cities in the country.

With today’s addition of Los Angeles, Boston, and Atlanta, Qatar Airways will offer daily nonstop services to all 10 of the largest metropolitan areas of the United States.

Service to Los Angeles, the second largest city in the U.S., will begin Jan. 1, 2016, with the airline’s flagship Boeing 777 aircraft, which features a two-class cabin with 42 Business Class fully lie-flat seats in a 2-2-2 configuration.

On March 16, 2016, Qatar will launch daily flights to Boston, the largest city in New England, and will operate its latest flagship A350 XWB in a two-class configuration with 36 Business Class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, featuring an 80-inch fully flat bed and a 17-inch in-flight entertainment screen.

Later that year, on July 1, Atlanta will be Qatar Airways’ third new route to the U.S. and be operated with the airline’s flagship Boeing 777 aircraft.

Qatar is also adding a second daily flight between Doha and New York next year.

In a statement, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker said: "As Qatar Airways continues its global expansion, we are delighted to be offering even more gateways in the United States, connecting passengers from destinations across the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, Africa and Southeast Asia. We look forward to offering a great travel experience to our US passengers on the World's Best Business Class across our network of more than 140 destinations, with a convenient one-stop transfer at the new state-of-the-art Hamad International Airport in Doha.”

Qatar’s announcement drew an immediate rebuke from the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, the lobby group for the three major U.S. airlines. American, Delta, and United have said that Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar have created an unfair marketplace by receiving subsidies from their respective governments.

The matter is currently being reviewed by the Obama Administration.

“This is yet another example of the Gulf carriers racing against the clock to dump more subsidized capacity on the U.S. and diverting passengers away from the U.S. airlines,” Partnership spokesman Jill Zuckman said. “The harm from these actions is real and immediate and it is why we need the U.S. government to quickly freeze additional flights by the Gulf carriers and to request consultations with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.”

Less troubling, perhaps, is a Bloomberg report that Emirates is overhauling its first-class cabins to make them even more luxurious than they already are.

How, we have no idea, although the airline apparently is stressing greater privacy with the new look.

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