In the ‘I didn’t see that coming’ stakes, Qatar Airways announcement this week of an ‘all business class’ service from Doha to Heathrow scores pretty highly.
Using a newly acquired sixth daily slot at Heathrow, the service will launch on May 14th. It will use an Airbus A319 with a similar layout to the one British Airways uses on its London City to New York JFK flights.
It will offer an overnight service to Doha, leaving Heathrow at 21.55 and arriving at 06.40. The return leaves Doha at 14.50, arriving in London at 20.25. With only one plane available in this configuration, it remains to be seen what happens when there are technical issues, especially as the 21.55 is the last Qatar service of the day.
Seating will be in a 2 x 2 formation, with just 40 seats on the plane. Qatar released these mock-up images:
Whilst the seating looks tight, Qatar says that the seats will be fully flat and that the planes will be wi-fi equipped.
My gut feeling would have been that Qatar would not release Avios seats on this route because they need to fill it with paying passengers to make it work. However, the seats are there. At the time of writing, for example, there are 4 seats available on the Heathrow to Doha service on 2nd June – 10% of the plane! In fact, there seem to be 4 seats available on most days.