Qatar Airways launches Seattle route early, swapping out Airbus jet for Boeing

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By  – Staff Writer, Puget Sound Business Journal

Qatar Airways is moving up the launch date for its Seattle-to-Doha service by almost two months, and will swap out the Airbus A350-900 jet it planned to operate on the route for a bigger Boeing 777 instead.

The Gulf carrier announced the moves Thursday, saying it will launch the four-day-a-week service on Jan. 29 instead of March 15.

Qatar Airways told the Business Journal it’s moving up the launch because of the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines and “strong support from corporate clients and a healthy air cargo demand as global trade looks to bounce back from 2020.”

“With the first Covid-19 vaccines currently being distributed worldwide, and with broad availability of the vaccine becoming more tangible by the day, the forecast for travel in 2021 is cautiously optimistic,” the airline added in an email shared through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport spokeswoman Kate Hudson.

Qatar Airways said its Boeing 777 has 42 business class seats which it calls its QSuites, and 312 economy class seats. That’s more than the Airbus jet it previously intended to operate on the Seattle route, which it said offered 36 business class seats and 247 economy class seats.

The airline, one of Boeing’s biggest customers in the Gulf for both passenger jets and cargo airplanes, announced last fall it will start serving vegan dishes on its flights in 2021.

Seattle will become the airline’s second new U.S. destination announced in 2020, Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker said, a move that highlights its desire to enhance connectivity with the U.S. market, even during the pandemic.

“With flights to Washington state’s largest city our U.S. network will grow to 11 gateways, surpassing the number of destinations we operated in the U.S. pre-Covid-19. We look forward to launching our Seattle service and connecting with the hub of our future oneworld (airline alliance) partner Alaska Airlines,” Al Baker said.