Qatar pulls the plug on all-business-class A319 flights to London

By Chris C., July 9 2015
Qatar pulls the plug on all-business-class A319 flights to London

Qatar Airways will wind up its exclusive all-business-class Airbus A319 flights from Doha to London in October, in favour of the larger Boeing 787 Dreamliner that offers travellers both business class and economy.

The Gulf airline had previously earmarked suspension of the 'Business One' service as a temporary measure, but a spokesman confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that the 40 seat jet (below) will permanently exit the route on October 24.

Adam Radwanski, Qatar Airways’ Country Manager for Australasia, noted that the Boeing 787 "will increase our daily capacity to and from London, which remains one of our most popular routes."

Radwanski also noted that "Qatar Airways will continue to operate six daily flights between our Doha hub and London", two of which feature the airline's Airbus A380 superjumbo.

The Doha-Heathrow Dreamliner takes wing from October 25 on QR15 to London and then QR16 on the overnight return.

(That schedule sees travel time from Doha to London reduced by 1hr 15m, although the journey back from London will be 30 minutes slower than at present.)

Launched in February 2014, Qatar's all-business A319s were intended to carry 40 high-paying passengers in what the airline described as "an exclusive private jet experience" with "spacious and bespoke cabins, and world-class cuisine." 

Each leather-clad seat converted into a long fully-flat bed, dressed with elegant Italian Frette linen and duvet during overnight flights.

While Qatar Airways' Boeing 787 sports a superior business class seat, with more at-seat space and direct aisle access for every passenger, the Dreamliner's 22-seat premium cabin accommodates barely half as many top-tier travellers as the A319.

Photo tour: Inside Qatar Airways' Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Qatar shifted one of its A319s onto the Doha-Jeddah route to coincide with the start of Ramadan, which is a peak travel season for the region, and is expected to roster the all-business birds onto another premium route later this year.

All-business class flights to London have proved a tough nut for airlines to crack, with British Airways the most successful through its Club World London City service to New York.

This is notable not only for the fact that the nimble little Airbus A318 is fitted with just 32 business class seats...

... but that the flagship BA1 flight leaves from London City Airport...

... and makes a brief stop to refuel at Shannon, Ireland before continuing to New York with US Customs and Immigration pre-clearance for a fast exit from the airport.

La Compagnie is a more recent entrant into the market, with the self-described 'boutique airline' flying all-business class jets from New York to London and Paris.

There are a longer list of failures, however.

The most recent is Hong Kong Airlines, which shuttered its all-business class flights between Hong Kong and London's Gatwick Airport in September 2012 after just six months.

Between late 2007 and mid-2008 three business-only airlines flying to London – Maxjet, Eos and Silverjet – all collapsed due to a range of factors including a increasing oil prices and keen competition from larger airlines.

FolloAustralian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Mar 2014

Total posts 567

How many of the all business A319s do they operate?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum

09 Jun 2011

Total posts 64

According to their website they only have one A319LR in this configuration

Qatar Airways

04 Apr 2014

Total posts 25

I think they did a couple up in this config after it was tried as a 2-class on long thin routes such as DOH-SEZ, DOH-RGN. Guessing they bought the wrong aircraft type and needed to do something with it before farming out to Qatar executive. 

Personally quite liked it, and always a winner for redemption availability on LHR, unlike the 380 or 787 services. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Jun 2014

Total posts 210

Nice pic of the BA a318 departing!

29 Aug 2013

Total posts 57

I seem to recall that this was only set up as an interim measure while either the 787 program delays or A380 seat supply issues passed (can't remember which one it was)

Seems that they have managed to spin the story of premium service in all J class for a while and are not mentioning this was only a stop gap measure to keep up with J class demand on the DOH-LHR route. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2014

Total posts 112

And a place holder for their slot.

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 735

Yeah, I dunno who would want to pay biz-class airfares to sit in the back row of an A319, even if it is a biz-class seat. 

10 Sep 2012

Total posts 149

I flew on it earlier this year, was in a seat behind the wing, and yes, it was noisy and not particularly comfortable.  I'm not sad to see this config consigned to history.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Mar 2014

Total posts 567

Not I.

Although the boutique, private jet feel would be nice to experience.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 211

I flew on it in June and enjoyed the day time flight from Doha to London. I was in row 2 and did wonder what it wuld be like down the back noise wise. Have to say the A319 product is IMHO far superior to the 777 they have on long haul out of Perth. Looking forward to them upgrading to new aircraft sometime. I do enjoy the efficient friendly service of Qatar.

Shame QR didn't fly into LCY - this may have been a clincher in terms of demand... though perhaps the required fuel load may have been too much for LCY's short runway.

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