Browsing Tag: inaugural

A Qatar 777-300ER receives a water-cannon salute as it taxis to its gate at Sea-Tac Airport

Qatar Airways (QR) launched service from Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, to Seattle, Washington, on Jan. 29, 2021, two months ahead of schedule. It also marked the first new service to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Inaugural flights are always a joy to cover – you get to see other media colleagues and friends, there’s always a bit of a festival atmosphere, and, best of all, you get to go out onto the ramp at a busy international airport to take photos and enjoy the experience of being airside.

The 777 is an imposingly large aircraft

The 777 is an imposingly large aircraft

Qatar now serves the three largest cities on the U.S. West Coast: Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. The Seattle service will be served by Boeing 777s with 42 seats in Qsuite business class and 312 seats in economy. The Qsuite seat layout is a 1-2-1 configuration, and economy is 3-4-3. Seattle service begins at four times weekly (Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), and is scheduled to switch to daily service on July 1.

The new Seattle service will offer connections from the U.S. to global destinations in Africa, India, Nepal, and Pakistan, among others. The national carrier of the State of Qatar continues to rebuild its network, which currently stands at over 120 destinations with plans to increase to more than 130 by the end of March.

Before the inaugural event, I had the opportunity to chat on the phone with Mark Drusch, SVP of Revenue Management, Alliances and Strategy at Qatar Airways, who’s based in Doha.

“We understand that there are Somalis in Seattle who want to go home — we know where our customers need to fly. We have flown a robust schedule even in the depths of covid, so we’ve had our finger on the pulse of the market and have been able to accurately gauge the movements that are required,” he said, citing strong pent-up demand for travel to East Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent.

Further, covid has opened up a wave of interest in travel to exotic/under-visited destinations. “We have got a massive developing market between the U.S. and more exotic beach destinations like the Seychelles,” Drusch said. ‘People want to go someplace a little more isolated, and that market has developed quite nicely.”

He also cited the attractiveness for the airline of the strong business environment in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. “This area has not had a problem during the pandemic,” he said, adding that “the Pacific Northwest will rebound faster because of the kinds of businesses we have up here.”

The 773's cargo hold was filled with containers. Qatar flies the large jets, in part, to maximize its cargo-handling opportunities

The 77W’s cargo hold was filled with containers. Qatar flies the large jets, in part, to maximize its cargo-handling opportunities.

Cargo is the one aviation sector that has seen growth since the emergence of COVID-19. “Our cargo market has just boomed during the pandemic. We are the largest passenger/freighter operation in the world, we were experts already in carrying cargo on freighters and passenger planes, and we’re flying the 773, which has lots of cargo capacity.”

Asked if Qatar sees itself as being in competition with Emirates for connecting passenger traffic, Drush said, “Lets be honest – the airline industry is very competitive, but we’ve been different than Emirates – they’ve pulled back from the U.S. and Europe. We’ve continued to be in the market for our customers; in the middle of covid we repatriated almost 2 million people.”

The 777-300 cockpit is also quite spacious

The 777-300 cockpit is also quite spacious

Qatar Airways Privilege Club and Alaska Mileage Plan members can now earn frequent flyer miles on both carriers. Beginning March 31, 2021, members can also redeem frequent flyer miles on both carriers’ full networks and elite oneworld Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald status perks, including lounge access.

Of interest to those in the Pacific Northwest who are Alaska Airlines frequent fliers, Qatar is part of the oneworld alliance, which Alaska recently joined. Alaska Airlines will connect customers from the U.S. West Coast to Doha and beyond via its other hubs in Los Angeles and San Francisco, complementing existing strategic partnerships with JetBlue and oneworld carrier American Airlines.

Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900 takes off from SEA - Photo: Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900 takes off from SEA – Photo: Singapore Airlines

The contest has ended and a big congrats to Alex Nieves for winning! He will be giving this model a wonderful new home. Be sure to subscribe to our story email (we shoot you an email when we publish a new story) to make sure you don’t miss the next contest!

I get excited every time a new airline flies out of my hometown airport and I am guessing that you can relate. Especially when it involves an aircraft that is rare for the airport, and it also becomes the longest flight out of the airport. This was the case recently when Singapore Airlines (SQ) started service from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) using an Airbus A350-900.

Here is the sweet 1:400 scale Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900 model you can win!

Here is the sweet 1:400 scale Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900 model you can win!

And I know you are already wondering “How do I win that Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900 model? I bet he is going to make me read his story and look at photos before telling me the deal.” #nailedit Keep on reading…

Late last year we spent a fun couple of days flying long-haul with Finnair and interviewing the head of their flagship Airbus A350 fleet. But we never actually flew the A350 ourselves, since Finnair’s US routes were all handled by their older A330s. That changed a month ago, when Finnair re-launched flights to LAX after a long hiatus and gave the honor to the A350. Obviously we weren’t going to miss the chance to cover the inaugural, and the folks at Finnair gave us the chance.

The onboard product lived up to the hype, with universal aisle access, lie-flat seats, Nordic style, and even a northern lights simulation on the ceiling. And it was just as fun covering Finnair’s pre-flight festivities on the ground. Clearly this route was a big deal for the Finnair team, getting the honorific flight numbers AY01 and AY02.

Read on for the full scoop on Finnair’s (re)inaugural celebration of its service from Los Angeles to Helsinki.

Cathay Pacific's inaugural departure from Sea-Tac Airport

Cathay Pacific’s inaugural departure from Sea-Tac Airport

Cathay Pacific’s new non-stop service from Seattle to Hong Kong launched on April 1 with four flights per week; the service will go daily starting July 1.

The new offering is the only current flight between the two Pacific Rim cities; that should make it a popular option for travelers.

Cathay Pacific went all-out with a launch party at the gate

Cathay Pacific went all-out with a launch party at the gate

Cathay Pacific is using its excellent Airbus A350-900 on the route, which is now the airline’s eighth to the United States and follows existing services to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York (JFK), New York (Newark), San Francisco, and Washington DC.