Doha-based Qatar Airways know aircraft delivery delays only too well. The airline was the global launch customer of both Airbus A350 variants (-900 and -1000 XWB, which faced supply chain and engine delays) and was previously set to become the world’s first A320neo operator, before pulling out following Pratt and Whitney engine issues (which, some years later, are still causing a headache at many carriers).
While the airline’s home may be under an unprecedented air blockade from its Gulf neighbours, (which immediately eliminated largest market destinations and continues to force lengthy detours to multiple routes) the airline continues a global ‘replacement’ expansion strategy — including to the idyllic island of Langkawi, Malaysia — where I’m writing from this week, following the inaugural flight, a tag on the existing Doha-Penang route.
The Gulf airline has a backlog of aircraft orders for more Airbus A350 jets, Boeing 787-9s, and – eventually – Boeing 777-X. In an exclusive sit-down with Aviation Analyst in Langkawi, Qatar Airways Group CEO H.E Akbar Al Baker explained the delivery and entry-into-service of Qatar’s upcoming Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners will be delayed — but for once, it isn’t due to the engine manufacturers.
Al Baker told me “The good news is our Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft is ready, but we have delayed the delivery because our new business class seat is not ready.”
Al Baker went on to explain that the new business class seat will be a brand new variant of the ‘QSuite’ — a seat widely regarded as the best business class seat in the skies today. “It will have QSuite – the first time QSuite will debut on the 787, but it will be a new variant, next-generation QSuite” he added.
The original QSuite product currently exists on the airlines’ 777, and A350 jets. Each seat is crafted with luxurious details such as hand-stitched Italian leather and satin rose gold finishing, and it’s fast become the benchmark for business class cabin design.
An entirely new version of the seat for the 787-9 is only necessary due to the smaller cabin fuselage of the 787-9, an aircraft which will soon form part of Qatar’s long haul fleet, and go on to replace the existing A330s.