At the Qatar press conference on January 12, 2016 in Beverly Hills, with His Excellency GCEO Akbar Al Baker, LAWA Director Deborah Flint, and Qatar's VP for the Americas Gunther Saurwein. Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter

At the Qatar press conference on January 12, 2016 in Beverly Hills, with LAWA Director Deborah Flint, His Excellency GCEO Akbar Al Baker, and Qatar’s VP for the Americas Gunther Saurwein (L-R) – Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter

Qatar Airways held a press conference on Tuesday to highlight the carrier’s entry into the Los Angeles market, with His Excellency, Qatar Group CEO Akbar Al Baker, providing his insights into the new service, as well has having some choice words regarding what he views as an unwarranted attack on his airline by the three big US-based carriers. AirlineReporter was on hand to live-tweet the event, and Al Baker did not disappoint.

Flight attendants served as ushers and assistants for Qatar's press conference on january 12, 2016 in Beverly Hills. Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter

Flight attendants served as ushers and assistants for Qatar’s press conference on January 12, 2016 in Beverly Hills – Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter

The highly-choreographed press conference began with Qatar’s new soccer (né football)-themed safety video, featuring FC Barcelona. Besides Al Baker, Executive Director for Los Angeles World Airports Deborah Flint and Qatar’s Vice President for the Americas Gunther Saulwien were on hand; unfortunately, footballer Lionel Messi was not present at the presser.

The daily non-stop service from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Hamad International Airport (DOH) in Doha began on January 1, using a Boeing 777-200LR featuring two classes of service.

BONUS: Flying Business Class on a Qatar Airways Boeing 777

The 42 lie-flat business class seats are arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration, while the 217 economy seats are set up as 3-3-3, though the carrier will be adding more seats by introducing 10-abreast seating on their 777-300ER fleet. Qatar operates out of Terminal 2 at LAX.

The business class seat on Qatar Airways' Boeing 777-300ER

The business class seat on Qatar Airways’ Boeing 777-300ER

After introductions, Al Baker wasted no time in going after the  US-based airlines (US3) he felt were “ganging up” against his carrier, with Delta Air Lines being his favorite target. Taking a swipe at Delta’s announcement that it had purchased a used Boeing 777 for cheap ($7.7 million), Al Baker remarked that Qatar does not “fly old, crap, second-hand airplanes.” His Excellency went on to note that Qatar has the newest fleet and, on average, receives one new aircraft every ten days, with $70 billion worth of orders still outstanding.

Brooke Burns hosted the Qatar press conference on January 12, 2016 in Beverly Hills. Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter

Brooke Burns hosted the Qatar press conference on January 12, 2016, in Beverly Hills – Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter

Al Baker also did not spare oneworld alliance partner American Airlines, adding that if American continues to conduct business unfairly, Qatar is perfectly willing to leave oneworld and “is big enough to form a mini-alliance” on its own. “We will not be bullied.”

BONUS: Flying on an American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER

The point of contention between the “US3” (American, Delta, and United) and the “ME3” (Qatar, Emirates, and Etihad) stems from accusations by the US3 of unfair competition due to inappropriate massive subsidies from the ME3’s respective governments. Al Baker hit back hard at those claims, pointing out subsidies that the US3 have allegedly received from their own federal and state governments, including discharge of debts and pensions through the federal bankruptcy process, fuel subsidies, tax breaks, and government bailouts. Al Baker also suggested that the unfair competition claims were a red herring, asserting that the US3 have swindled the American flying public with high fares, low seat count, and bad service and products.

Qatar Airways’ recently-delivered A350 XWB and A380 jetliners taxi out before departing on their ferry flights from Toulouse, France to the carrier’s hub in Doha, Qatar - Photo: Airbus

Qatar Airways’ recently-delivered A350 XWB and A380 jetliners taxi out before departing on their ferry flights from Toulouse, France to the carrier’s hub in Doha, Qatar – Photo: Airbus

Still on the subject of subsidies, Al Baker went after European carriers and their home countries as well, specifically calling out British Airways, Air France, and Lufthansa for receiving their own government subsidies. Offhandedly, he mused about the number of European jobs affected if he were to cancel all of Qatar’s outstanding orders for 132 Airbus aircraft, including four A380s and 74 A350s undelivered.

BONUS: Flying Business Class for the First Time & Delta Disapoints

Continuing the verbal offensive, Al Baker spoke about new destinations for 2016. Six have already been publicly announced by Qatar, with Boston and Atlanta as the new U.S. cities, to start later this year. On the new service to Delta’s home base in Atlanta, Al Baker quipped, “We like to rub salt in the wounds of Delta.” Delta recently announced the end of service to Dubai, citing overcapacity and a “distorted playing field.”

Significantly, Qatar plans to announce 12 new routes in the next few months, but Al Baker declined to disclose them. “I don’t discuss trade secrets in front of the press.”

Much was presented regarding the passenger experience, with significant time devoted to highlighting the features of DOH, almost seemingly purpose-built to Qatar’s specifications, including an on-site mosque envisioned by His Excellency himself as a water bubble by the terminal building’s outdoor water feature.

Al Baker also revealed that mock-ups of new, proprietary seats for both business and economy classes are complete, and that he will soon be flying to a secret location somewhere in the U.S. to “personally inspect and sign-off” on them. Just five people know the details of the design, claimed Al Baker. The only details he provided was that the new business class seat would offer “full privacy” and will first appear on a newly-delivered Boeing 777.

Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Business Class seat. Photo: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Business Class seat – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter

In regards to the economy seats, AirlineReporter elicited the first known comments from Al Baker regarding his airline’s decision to follow many other carriers in installing 10-abreast seating on its 777s.

He replied that the carrier’s own studies showed that there was a lot of wasted space on the 777, especially in the aisles, and that he would never compromise passenger comfort. He claimed that a general passenger who is “not a journalist in aviation” would not notice the difference in width and comfort, but that ultimately the airline was “in the business of making money” by adding as many passengers as feasible.

Qatar 777-200LR Economy Cabin

Qatar 777-200LR economy cabin in a nine-abreast configuration

Qatar and Al Baker continued the celebration of LAX service Tuesday night, with an invitation-only gala at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, featuring celebrity guests and a performance by Mariah Carey. AirlineReporter, unfortunately, was not invited to the gala.

SENIOR CORRESPONDENT - LOS ANGELES, CA. With LAX serving as a second home, John enjoys being confined to an aluminum (or now carbon composite) cylinder jetting through the air miles above the terra firma. He has logged millions of miles in such conditions and enjoyed it 99% of the time. Email: john@airlinereporter.com. You can also read more about John's non-AVGeek musings on his personal blog, VNAFlyer.

http://VNAFlyer.blogspot.com
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30 Comments

Poor Akbar Al Baker will never know the joy of flying on a Maddog.

Glen Towler

10 seats across on a 777 no thanks I won’t be flying Qatar. But it seems to me that the American airlines has lost there battle with Middle eastern airlines because no one cares basically.

Hey Glen,

At least when I flew on AA’s 777-300ER a while back… I think they have an AMAZING business product (didn’t get a chance to check out economy), but the service was very much lacking on both flights. You can have fancy toys, but also need treat the employees right and come to agreements to keep the customers happy!

David | AirlineReporter

Glen Towler

Hi David
Yes my parents flew Qatar economy they said the food was awful and when they complained the airline just couldn’t have cared less.
Sounds like they need to learn from Emirates who I have heard are amazing to fly with

DPB, I’ll be the counterpoint and say that I had downright excellent service on my LAX-SYD flight on AA last month (which readers will get to see on AR soon! #shamelessplug) from the crew, even after 14 hours in the air.

I would agree that overall, AA and the other US-based carriers don’t emphasize personal service nearly to the same degree as other foreign airlines, which creates an interesting juxtaposition/crapshoot:
– you get a good crew and it’s because they genuinely love what they’re doing;
– you get an OK crew, who probably could have been great if they had the training and incentive to do so; or
– you get a not-so-good crew, who wouldn’t be swayed by training and briefings, but haven’t done anything to be terminated.

So what it comes down to (for most economy passengers) is that price is king; the US3 tend to compete on price, and the ME3 tend to compete on service. And the problem for the US3 comes when the ME3 competes on service + price… the US3 simply can’t respond in kind.

John | AirlineReporter

The AA flight attendants had good reason to be upset — they had 50 more passengers in the 77W, but no more flight crew to serve them. But passengers don’t want to hear about it. That was a while back and during the start of #NewAmerican and I haven’t had the chance to fly them since.

David | AirlineReporter

The Infidel Alliance

Dear ‘Glen Towler’,

I know you care. Please never fly on any of these Islamic airlines, regardless of the gold plated toilets or saving 2 hours on your route. Human liberty and dignity is more important than the fleeting comforts of the airlines of these Islamic tyrant kings, rulers and ‘his excellencies’. Think about it.

Best regards,

~ The Infidel Alliance

The Infidel Alliance

More truth about the mind of ‘his excellency’ who LIKES to rub salt in the wounds….from Capt. Nguyen’s article:

“including an on-site mosque envisioned by His Excellency himself”.

You see ‘his excellency’ is an Islamist from a country that is a state sponsor of Islamic terror. The promotion of Islam, through ‘his excellencies’ very own mosque is an important part of QR.

Here is a little light reading about Qatar: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/208620.pdf

~ The Infidel Alliance

Mickey Blanter

10 across on a 777 is very common. On the older first generation 777s, the 3-3-3 configuration was more common, but the 300 series changed that. The US3 offer the worst service, awful meals (except in Business class), arrogant staff (especially the union types with lifetime employment). The US3 have received a lot of subsidies and bailouts from the government and in return they have charged us for everything from luggage to food.

I think the banter on both sides is uncalled for. The fact of the matter is that if the US3 had a comparable product with comparable service and charged even 10% more, I would consider them, but they provide sub par service, old aircrafts, outdated seats, little or no Inflight Entertainment, add to that arrogant staff and high fares, no wonder people are choosing foreign airlines over US airlines. Does this ring a bell of the 1980s and the invasion of Japanese vehicles outselling their American counterparts? The Big 3 cried foul and complained about price dumping, illegal subsidies and import tariffs for American cars in Japan. What happened to that? Well, Detroit went on a diet, changed the way they did business and more importantly, the way they built cars, and earned their respect back. Its about time that the US3 do the same.

You don’t even have to go very far to realize that the competition has stolen your lunch (US3). Look at Jet Blue and Southwest. Among the highest customer satisfaction and both are low cost carriers. What are they doing differently? Jet Blue offers gourmet snacks, Direct TV and soon free wifi onboard. Southwest Airlines offers media streaming onboard, free checkin of 2 pieces of luggage per passenger and friendly staff.

After traveling on these two airlines, the US3 seem like dinosaurs and since they can’t pick on their local competitors in matters of efficiency, they have chosen the easiest of them all. The fact is that most Americans, (frequent overseas flyers) would choose to fly British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa, KLM, Swiss and a whole host of other carriers before they fly the US3.

JL Johnson

Wow! I have heard that this guy was abrasive, but this takes the cake. These quotes give the impression that he’s brazen and disconnected from reality, at least reality here in the states. It seem entirely possible, given his excellency’s position back home in what is by all means a distorted reality from the rest of the world. Can’t say I have much LUV for the chest thumping and grandstanding. Sorry you didn’t make it to the gala. Sounds like a party for the top fraction of the 1%, anyway.

JL, His Excellency definitely does NOT mince words. The quote that didn’t make it into the piece (but was on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AirlineReporter/status/686997299491287040):

In reference to the US3 claims about subsidies for the ME3, the wrap-up soundbite was that the claims were “simply bulls–t.” I do think being loud and brazen is part of his strategy to get the public’s attention, and it’s working IMO.

John | AirlineReporter

blair kooistra

Evidently his strategy works. Each time he has a press conference in the US, offering little more information other than inflammatory sound bites, airlinereporter.com is there. At least this time it didn’t include a free flight to the press junket. I, for one, LOVE Delta’s second-hand junk!

Rusty Shackleford

Below I established that you were probably smoking amphetamine or at least some sort of quasi-plasticicized narcotic. Seems like I was missing the fact you were already gone. How do you expect a gang of citizen journalists to afford to go cover events that have an effect on the industry without a bit of a leg up now and then?

If you would like AirlineReporter to cover stories 100% on their own dime all the time; perhaps you can come out of the gutter and donate your drug money that fuels your fantasy to them!

Hey Blair,

Although we have been to quite a few QR press events, they have not flown us to one (although the 787 delivery story did have a bit of a press event). Whenever we get a flight or anything else from an airline, we disclose it at the bottom of the story. I do think Johnny, who is based in LA, got some free food, but that is not big enough to disclose :).

I would love for us to be at one of Delta’s events, where Richard has some choice words for the ME3… it seems to go both ways!

David | AirlineReporter

mike deal

hey blair, didn’t know you were also an “avgeek”. are you still dispatching trains for the bnsf?

i tried that many years ago, (NP) but decided to go back to school and finish my degree. still have mixed
feelings over that decision. (there are probably some train crews that think i made the right decision) i finally retired as a middle school principal.

mike deal
puyallup wa

Attending a press conference with His Excellency (or “Chief” as those inside the airline call him) last month was quite amazing. He definitely calls it like he sees it and does not mince words. Chief feels that his airline is under attack (and it is), and has come out fighting in response.

I never got the feeling that he was disconnected from reality though. Rather, the three largest airlines in the world are coming for him, and he’s got his defenses up. One of those defenses is talking a big game, which is a different strategy than what Emirates and especially Etihad are doing. But it makes for great sound bites and gets his airline mentioned on the news.

The Infidel Alliance

I will never fly on any airline run by a “his excellency”. Nor will I ever fly an Islamic airline, regardless of their “product” or their routes.

I wouldn’t have flown Lufthansa in 1942.

We are in an ISLAMIC WORLD WAR. Why would we support an enemy sworn to our destruction?

~ The Infidel Alliance

Uh huh. Sure thing dude.

David | AirlineReporter

The Infidel Alliance

No, I won’t….and neither will you. Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Baha’i, Sikhs, atheists, us dirty kaffir, are all banned from entering Mecca. It is one of the only places left on the planet that is still apartheid.

And if you think THE ISLAMIC WORLD WAR is some joke, just look at the news of the world for the first month of 2016…..Islamic rape squads in Germany…..suicide bombers in Istanbul…. suicide attack on Pakistani Embassy in Afghanistan…..nightclub mass shooting in Calgary by two men named Mohammed….and just today, bombs and gunfire in Jakarta.

Emirates, Qatar, Etihad, Saudia….all propagate this violent, supremecist doctrine of Muhammed directly or indirectly. There is nothing to admire about Islam or its airlines. Instead of celebrating Qatar Airlines we free people of the world should be boycotting it.

~ The Infidel Alliance

The Infidel Alliance

Apologies, comment above was in response to Blair Kooistra. ~ IA

blair kooistra

So I guess you won’t be flying any fifth-hand B747-200’s to the Hajj next year? Oh, come on!

Rusty Shackleford

Come on now you, do you really think that QR had anything to do with Hajj Charters?! Do they look like Cabo Air of Nigeria!? Put down the crackpipe!

blair kooistra

Uh, No Rusty, don’t think they have anything to do with Hajj Charters. Read Infidel’s response. “I will never fly an Islamic airline.” Thus the reference. Excuse me, gotta refill my crack pipe. . . .

The Infidel Alliance

‘His Excellency’ Al Baker quipped, “We like to rub salt in the wounds of Delta.”

This seemingly innocuouse barb actually reveals the primal, sadistic, revenge based consciousness of the Mohammedan mind….the desire to hurt people, make them suffer….decapitate them, burn them alive, kidnap women and force them into sex slavery, amputate hands, terrorize.

Perhaps the only thing more repugnant that flying Qatar, run by a ‘his excellency’, would be flying Emirates, run by a ‘ruler’. Every time you support these airlines, their excellencies and rulers, you help propagate the Islamic World War.

~ The Infidel Alliance

Hypocrite, you are enticing hate with your own comment. Many people understand that most of the Muslim world are against terrorism. Just see how the QR planes will fill up. I hope people don’t judge the western world by you like u have jugged the Arabs by Al Baker.
I agree he is an outspoken brute but he’s running a successful airline. The point of the argument is that the US3 are trying to influence US government sanctions against the ME3 due to their “unfair” subsidies, while he points out that they have benefits from their own government. I’m not taking sides here but this is what it’s all about. It is you who is bringing up conflicts and even brought in the Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Baha’i, Sikhs, atheists (while talking about the Saudis who have nothing to do with anything here).

The Infidel Alliance

Hi ‘Aviator’,

How do you know that I am of the western world? I live neither in the Americas, Australia or Africa. For the safety of my neck, we will leave it at that.

I understand the feeling of wanting to shoot the messenger when confronted with a truth that threatens the foundations of your own beliefs. But I am not the one advocating beheading, sex slavery, suicide murder, amputation or terror. Those are the sacraments of Muhammed and his dogma of Islam, as practiced around the world.

I never “jugged the Arabs by Al Baker”, but since you raised the point, and commented about how so many Muslims are against terrorism, why can’t this overwhelmingly vast majority rid the world of that psychopathic minority? The reason is that Muhammed himself was a terrorist and that jihad, the slaughtering and subjugation of kaffir, is the best deed in Islam. Not love, not forgiveness, not peace or kumbaya….murder in the name of Allah, jihad, holy war. It says so right in the Islamic texts, uttered directly from the mouth of Hitl…er…Muhammed. For any Muslim to defy the sacrament of jihad is to defy the teachings and examples of Muhammed….thus committing apostasy.

This article is about the politics of aviation, and the “sharp words” of your “outspoken brute” of Islamic aviation. I just painted the bigger picture, the truth about the Islamic World War against the Catholics in the Philippines, the Buddhists in Thailand, the Hindus and Sikhs in India, the Baha’i and homosexuals in Iran, the atheist Han in Xinjiang, the schoolchildren of Beslan, the Chaldeans in Iraq, the Yazidis in Syria, the Jews in Israel, the Copts in Egypt, the schoolgirls in Africa, the Christians and animists of Nigeria/Mali/Uganda/Tanzania/Somalia/Sudan, the people of Paris, the women of Cologne, the people of San Bernardino, and on, and on, and on. The common denominator to all this is Islam. Not ‘radical’ Islam, Islam. And these are the airlines of Islam.

QR, EQ, EY, SV……the Lufthansa’s of the Islamic World War. Would you have flown Lufthansa in 1942? Why then would you fly these airlines from the state sponsors of Islamic terror run by tyrant kings, rulers and ‘ his excellencies’?

For the good of humanity, boycott these airlines, suffer a 2 hour longer route to bypass these oppressive terror states, commit your spending to the free world. But most importantly, spread the truth.

~ The Infidel Alliance

Hi Aviator

Couldn’t agree more people like The infidel alliance should go and spread there hate else where. There just trolls and there so many out there ruining the internet. For those of who want to have a intelligent conversation about airlines. I will unsubscribing from this feed as I can’t stand the rubbish that comes from the alliance

Hey Glen,

I hear you. We are pretty lucky at AirlineReporter to not have many trolls and most of the people who comment are respectful and not that far out there. I want to have a pretty open commenting policy and do not want to delete any, unless they really cross the line. I did have to delete one from this thread that was pretty bad. But do not blame you for unsubscribing!

Thanks for reading and commenting on other stories :).

David | AirlineReporter

The Infidel Alliance

Dear Glen, Aviator, David, and fellow readers,

Islam and its global war against the kaffir is the single most important issue of the 21st century. It affects every person who steps foot in an airport. So far, every year of this new century has been afflicted with Islamic violence.

Before you board a magnificent 787 or a massive a380 (as I do often) you have to take your shoes off because of the Islamic shoe bomber, throw away your water because of the Islamic liquid bomber, take out your laptop because of the Islamic computer battery bomber, and be subjected to a degrading full body electronic strip search because of the Islamic underwear bomber.

You reflexively accuse me of spreading hate, but I am merely pointing out the doctrinal hate and violence of the worlds most regressive, oppressive, intolerant dogma that has every airport on edge every single day, and is the cause of the aforementioned indignities to the traveling public.

I directed a lot of my commentary at QR’s ‘his excellency’, his sadistic glee at inflicting painful torture, his very own airport mosque and the fact that his tiny little nation is a state sponsor of terror. I pointed out that each of the gulf airlines is essentially the same, arms of the Islamic movement run by tyrants and dictators. I urged a principled boycott of these airlines, comparing them and our times to another epoch of global violence from a different totalitarian supremacist movement. Comments about Islamic airlines in an article about an Islamic airline and the nasty little Islamist who runs it seem totally appropriate.

If you want to fly QR, EK, EY or SV, you are free to do so. Just understand what you are doing. You are flying Lufthansa in 1942. You are facilitating the global jihad.

Out of respect to the countless victims of the Islamic jihad in Bali, Mumbai, Paris, New York, London, Madrid, Africa, Russia, China, Ft. Hood, and the police offer who recently survived a hail of 11 Mohammedan bullets, I won’t ever celebrate anything with ‘his excellency’, and I will never ever fly on any Islamic airline….ever.

Points made, please think about them.

Good day.

~ The Infidel Alliance

I actually agree with Al Baker on this one. Anyone who experienced premium products and services by airlines based in the far east and middle east Asia would agree that their offerings are far better than anybody else’s around the globe. You wouldn’t mind shelling out $10,000 for a seat. I am talking particularly about Premium (business and first class) cabins. US-based carriers’ offerings are nowhere close in terms of quality and consistency of the experience these Asian-based carriers provide. This high price tag on Premium cabins are all about everything: on your way to the airport being shuttled by private limousine, being whisked away from the crowd into a serene corner for premium travelers as you enter the airport, impeccable lounges with spa and fine dining and more relaxation options while waiting to fly, to arrival wherever the destination may be. Older airports across America (no matter how facelifted they were) are nowhere near the experience you get in newer much bigger airports around the greater Asian region. All international airports in big cities in America are cramped compared to these newer airports. Their airport processes are much more efficient than it is here. Airport experience alone is a whole new story US-based airlines can’t compete. Airports here in America totally lack appeal. I guess these enumerable benefits flying with Asian-based carriers are something US-based carriers can’t compete no matter what they do, unless their investors will settle for less profit margins. Al BAker is right about these US big 3 are swindling the flying American public by offering over-priced seats, lower inconsistent quality of service to get to the airlines’ bottom line of exorbitant profits. In over my decade of flying halfway across the globe and back, I have never flown on a US-based carrier. If I flew to Europe from the US, I would even take the longer route of going to an Asian hub over flying directly to Europe, unless the flight is operated by a US-based carrier flying a new aircraft or operated by a superior European carrier with a superior product offering. If I have to spend several thousands of dollars for an airline seat, it better be worth every penny and make me forget I spent that much money. This is something Delta, American, and United can’t do, in my opinion. I wouldn’t dare fly with any of these 3, except domestic, which I fly with Delta only. I fly within the domestic US once to twice a week when I am not traveling abroad. I have a good understanding how none of the US’ big 3 airlines can deliver a consistent service, not even in the domestic US. I take that to mean that they are not good choices at all for international travel. Delta very recently introduced its newest state of the art A350 in Oct 2017. The seats are overpriced. I could fly Qatar’s with a better identical seat for maybe about the same money or a less, knowing that my experience in Doha airport and the lounge there is way better than here. Why then would I fly Delta? There is no incentive flying with American, Delta, or United when you can have more bang for your buck with carriers like Qatar, Etihad, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, etc.?

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