The daily “premium business class” service will commence from May 15 and feature a single-aisle, 2-2 seating configuration offering 40 seats, the airline said in a statement on Tuesday. It added that the service will be operated by an Airbus A319 aircraft. According to previous statements from the airline a Qatar Airways A319 usually offers 110 seats in a mixed-class configuration.
“Today’s announcement reaffirms Qatar Airways’ determination to continue its expansion drive by improving an already superior in-flight product,” Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer, Akbar Al Baker, stated.
According to the airline’s website on Monday, the cheapest available fare on the business class-only service to London Heathrow on May 15 is priced at Dh14,748.49 ($4,015.33). Under this pricing, all 40 seats would sell for Dh589,939.60 ($160,613.20).
In comparison, a business class seat on a regular Qatar Airways service to London Heathrow on May 15 starts at Dh10,642.69 ($2,897.51).
Service on the business-only flight will be the same as that provided to other business class passengers on regular flights, a Qatar Airways spokesperson said.
The all-business class offering is a first for Middle East carriers, according to Qatar Airways; however, airlines have been taking steps to boost the number of high-yield passengers.
Last year, Dubai’s flydubai and Saudi Arabia’s flynas announced the introduction of business class seats. The two airlines previously operated under a low-cost carrier model.
Earlier in the week, airline industry trade group, International Air Transport Association (IATA) , released its December 2013 premium traffic monitor facts.
IATA stated that the number of passengers travelling in premium seats in international markets increased by 4.2 per cent in 2013 compared to the previous year. In December 2013, it was up 5.5 per cent on the same period the previous year.
“Growth in premium travel has been supported by positive developments in the business environment in the second half of 2013. Business confidence has been on the rise, with Europe and the United States both showing signs of economic improvement,” IATA stated.
According to IATA, international premium traffic growth on the Europe–Middle East route grew by around nine per cent in December 2013.