Executive Traveller exclusive
Qatar Airways will add a new business class suite to its premium portfolio when the Oneworld member's first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners take to the skies in early 2021.
The design will borrow some notes from the acclaimed Qsuite – including a sliding door – while also building on the foundation of the airline's Boeing 787-8 business class seat.
"Because the Boeing 787 is narrower than the Boeing 777s and the Airbus 350s, we cannot really fit the Qsuites in," Qatar Airways Group CEO His Excellency Akbar Al Baker has told Executive Traveller.
A similar challenge presented itself on the upper deck of Qatar's Airbus A380s, where the pronounced wall curvature of the upper deck business class cabin ruled out the first-generation Qsuite.
The superjumbos were originally slated to receive a similarly-modified suite, but those plans were scrapped due to the A380's early retirement – all ten of the double-decker behemoths have now been grounded until at least 2022 and may never return to the skies.
For the Boeing 787-9, Qatar Airways' design team – working with the detail-oriented and famously hands-on Al Baker – have settled upon a more privacy-minded equivalent to the current 787-8 seat, which also appears on the Airbus A380s and early A350-900s.
“It will be a modified version of the 1-2-1 seat we have in the past, but that seat does not have full privacy – this one will have full privacy, with a sliding door,” Al Baker revealed.
Qatar Airways' original Boeing 787-8 business class seat still rates very highly among corporate travellers and frequent flyers for its comfort, space and finish.
It's also quite familiar: Qatar worked with Collins Aerospace (then B/E Aerospace) to develop a bespoke version of the well-regarded Super Diamond platform.
That seat, in various forms, is also flown by Virgin Australia, American Airlines, Canada's WestJet and Taiwan's China Airlines, and recently made its doored debut as the British Airways’ Club Suite.
However, Al Baker said that while the Boeing 787-9 suites "will be similar to the Super Diamond, it will not be by Collins."
The height of the suite walls and their sliding privacy doors are believed to sit lower than the Qsuite's 135cm (53 inches) based on passenger feedback.
Qatar Airways inked an order for 30 Boeing 787-9s, with seven handed over before the coronavirus pandemic put a sudden stop to the airline’s typically ambitious fleet growth and pushed all Airbus and Boeing deliveries back until at least 2022.
Al Baker said the plan for the Boeing 787-9 fleet would replace most of the older and smaller Boeing 787-8s, "which we will lease to other airlines," as well as "some Airbus 330s."
Up next: the 'mini-Qsuite'
After this will come the first wave of Boeing 777-9s, for which Al Baker said “we are developing new business class seats”, with the possibility of a “very exclusive first class cabin” for some later Boeing 777X deliveries, which would ply a handful of premium-heavy European routes favoured by well-heeled Qatari travellers.
“We have huge demand here in Qatar to two or three European destinations” such as London and Paris, Al Baker explains, “so we may introduce a very small first class cabin for our local passengers who want a very exclusive first class product.”