The end of First Class at Qatar Airways? CEO Al Baker says ‘not worth it’

Qatar Airways chief executive expressed that First Class is no longer worth it
Noushad Thekkayil /

Qatar Airways’ Boeing 777X aircraft will not offer a first class seating, according to chief executive officer Akbar Al Baker, potentially signaling the end of the product onboard the carrier’s jets. 

Al Baker told Bloomberg prior to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Istanbul, Turkey, that its next-generation Boeing 777X aircraft will not have first class seats.  

Al Baker stated that the investment does not justify the returns, given the quality of Qatar Airways’ business class seat, marketed as the Qsuite. 

“Why should you invest in a subclass of an aeroplane that already gives you all the amenities that first class gives you. I don’t see the necessity,” he added.  

The only aircraft Qatar Airways aircraft to include first class seats are 10 Airbus A380 and four Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. However, according to data, the Qatari carrier only operates three of the 10 A380s in its fleet, with one currently in maintenance. 

While Boeing has paused production of the 777X, it expects it to resume sometime in 2023. The manufacturer previously adjusted the delivery date for the first 777X-9, anticipating that it would occur in 2025. Previously, Al Baker said that Qatar Airways would be the first airline to take the 777X, in addition to becoming the launch customer of the 777X-8F in January 2022. 

Boeing president and CEO David Calhoun provided an update on the progress of the 777X during the manufacturer’s Q4 2022 results presentation, stating that everything is on course for the aircraft’s timeline to receive certification by 2025. 

During the Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference on June 2, 2023, Calhoun reiterated that he still feels “positive” about the timeline, stating that the “big hanging issue was EASA [European Union Aviation Safety Agency – ed. note] and the FAA [United States (US) Federal Aviation Administration – ed. note] agreement on the certification principles and design principles that were embedded there”. 

“They’ve resolved that. It’s documented. So, now, we are marching down the path,” Calhoun added.  

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