Qatar Airways inaugurated nonstop flights between Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Qatar’s Doha International Airport on April 10, 2013, but has been thwarted in its plans to offer daily flights by the worldwide grounding of Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
The grounding had “a serious impact on Qatar Airways,” said CEO Akbar Al Baker. Chicago is one of six new destinations for Qatar in 2013. Though Chicago flights are using Boeing 777 aircraft, the loss of Qatar’s five 787s caused the airline to reshuffle its operations worldwide preventing it from offering daily service from Chicago until June 15, the date it expects its 787s will be in the air again. It now offers thrice-weekly service from Chicago. “Our plans for expansion were severely disrupted,” said Al Baker, adding that Qatar usually puts a new aircraft into service within three hours of delivery. The airline expects to receive compensation from Boeing for the loss of the use of its five 787s, though he declined to name a figure.
Billing itself as the “world’s best airline,” Qatar is the national carrier of the State of Qatar and was named Airline of the Year by Skytrax in 2011 and 2012. Its Chicago flights on Boeing 777 aircraft have a 3-3-3 configuration in economy class, one row fewer than its competitors. Business class has 180-degree flat bed sleeper seats. In Doha, business passengers will have use of its dedicated Premium Terminal with a first- and business-class lounge featuring a spa, fine dining and duty-free shopping.
Qatar Airways Group also owns Doha International Airport and is building Hamad International Airport, also in Doha, with an opening projected by the end of 2013. The new and larger airport has the world’s longest runway.
Qatar Airways is a new code share partner with American Airlines and plans to join its One World alliance by the end of 2013.
Other U.S. cities served by Qatar Airways are Houston, New York and Washington, D.C. Al Baker said the airline plans to expand to Atlanta, Detroit and Boston plus one more U.S. city he declined to name. He also said Qatar would like to be the first airline to bring the Airbus 380, the world’s largest passenger aircraft, to Chicago, but it must convince airport authorities at O’Hare to build a facility that will accommodate its double-deck configuration.