Qatar Airways expects its new Boeing 787-9s to take wing next year, and they’ll be crowned by a fully-private business class seat which the airline’s CEO describes as a “new variant” on its acclaimed Qsuite.
However, this Dreamliner Qsuite will be a different design to the Qsuite which adorns many of the Gulf carrier’s Airbus A350 and Boeing 777 jets.
“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 tells Executive Traveller.
Instead, Qatar Airway’s Boeing 787-9 business class suite will be similar to that of the current current Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners, as well as the Airbus A380s and early A350-900s, which use the Super Diamond platform of Collins Aerospace.
“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.
He added that the Boeing 787-9 suites “will be similar to the Super Diamond, but it will not be by Collins.”
Combining a fully-flat bed, direct aisle access and plenty of personal space, Collins’ Super Diamond business class has over the years become a highly popular and reliable choice for airlines, and most recently was graced by the addition of a sliding door to create British Airways’ latest Club Suite.
Qatar Airways initially began working on this design – which some have dubbed Qsuite 2.0 – for the Airbus A380, as the pronounced wall curvature of the upper deck business class cabin ruled out the first-generation Qsuite.
With the superjumbos now due to retire between 2024 and 2028, they won’t be in line for that business class upgrade, which is now making its way to the Boeing 787-9s.
Qatar Airways was set to pull back the curtains on the Dreamliner Qsuite at the opening day of the ITB Berlin travel trade show on Wednesday March 4, 2020.
However, the rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic – which was at that stage taking a firm foothold in Europe – saw the travel expo cancelled.
Key traits of the unrevealed design were said to be at least 20% less weight than the original Qsuite, with the height of the suites and their sliding privacy doors reduced from the current 135cm (53 inches) based on passenger feedback.
The adjacent suites in the middle of the Boeing 787-9's business class cabin can still be joined to create a shared double suite and, if your travel partner is willing, a double bed.
However, unlike the Airbus A350 and Boeing 777 Qsuites, there's no option for four middle Qsuites to become a single over-sized 'quad space' suitable for families or colleagues.
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.”
The airline plans “to reduce our emissions and have a carbon neutral growth over a period of time,” Al Baker told Executive Traveller, “so we are very keen to keep on introducing fuel efficient aeroplanes.”
In addition to these new business class suites, Qatar Airways’ Boeing 787-9s will sport the airline's latest economy class seat – created by Italian seat manufacturer Optimares, with a pre-recline of six degrees for take-off and landing and full recline of 19 degrees, along with a "semi-fixed back shell" to avoid encroaching on the space of the passenger behind.
Also on the cards is Qatar Airways' Super WiFi, which delivers basic broadband-grade speeds of 5+Mbps – a substantial boost compared to the inflight Internet service of most international jets.
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.”