The FINANCIAL — As Qatar Airways continues to rapidly rebuild its network across the globe and in the U.S., the airline has announced it will operate four weekly flights to San Francisco – the fifth new destination launched by the national carrier of the State of Qatar since the start of the pandemic – from 15 December 2020. The San Francisco service will be operated by Qatar Airways’ state-of-the-art Airbus A350-900 featuring 36 seats in the award-winning Qsuite Business Class and 247 seats in Economy Class with passengers enjoying free Super Wi-Fi broadband internet until January 2021.
The World’s Best Airline, and the only Middle East carrier operating to San Francisco, has continued to grow and innovate during the pandemic with industry-leading flexible booking policies, robust safety measures and a dependable network, all providing strong levels of reliability for passengers. Throughout the pandemic, Qatar Airways continued operations to the U.S. with flights to both Chicago and Dallas-Fort Worth maintained during the entire period.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “We are thrilled to welcome San Francisco as our newest destination, and our ninth current gateway in the U.S. As we navigate the crisis, we have made it a priority to not only reinstate our existing destinations and be the airline travellers can rely on, but to also grow our network and increase connectivity with new and relevant destinations for our customers to enjoy.
“As the gateway to Silicon Valley and the vibrant tech economy, the San Francisco Bay Area is a globally important destination, both from a business and leisure perspective. Populated with many people wanting to visit friends, families or business partners overseas, Qatar Airways is perfectly positioned as the reliable airline partner to enable traffic in and out of the area. We are excited as we launch this new destination making it easier for our passengers to reunite with their loved ones, having taken more than 220,000 Americans home to the U.S. via scheduled and chartered flights amidst the pandemic.”
Mayor of San Francisco, Ms. London N. Breed, said: “On behalf of the City and County of San Francisco I’m proud to welcome Qatar Airways to San Francisco International Airport as they initiate their new nonstop service to Doha this coming December. During recent months we have seen expanding international air service from our airport and highly welcome these new flights which will serve our community and its travel needs. We welcome Qatar Airways to our city and to our world-class airport and look forward to their success in San Francisco.”
San Francisco International Airport Director, Mr. Ivar C. Satero said: “We are proud to welcome Qatar Airways’ new nonstop service between San Francisco and Doha this December. As airlines restore travel destinations around the world, we applaud the vision of Qatar Airways to make this new route a reality, and we look forward to offering a world-class airport experience to travellers from its network.”
Business Class passengers on this flight can enjoy the award-winning Qsuite business class seat with its enhanced privacy, including sliding privacy doors and the option to use a ‘Do Not Disturb (DND)’ indicator. The Qsuite seat layout is a 1-2-1 configuration, providing passengers to the Middle East and beyond with the most spacious, fully private, comfortable and social distanced Business Class product in the sky.
The addition of San Francisco will build onto Qatar Airways’ current service to some of the most vibrant cities in the U.S., including Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK), Philadelphia (PHL) and Washington, D.C. (IAD). By mid-December, the carrier will fly 55 weekly flights to nine destinations in the U.S. connecting onwards to hundreds of American cities through its strategic partnerships with American Airlines and JetBlue.
The new Qatar Airways service will offer excellent connections from the U.S. to global destinations in Africa, India (subject to NOTAMS), Nepal, Pakistan and South Africa amongst others via the best, most customer-friendly airport in the Middle East that consistently leads the way in safety and security measures.
The addition of flights to San Francisco will add a new route to the Qatar Airways Cargo network, bringing its total of U.S. destinations to 11. The new service will greatly support the Californian economy by adding 60 tonnes of belly hold capacity each week, each way by the world’s largest cargo operator.
To provide travellers with peace of mind when booking travel, Qatar Airways has extended its commitment to offering passengers flexible booking options, now available for all tickets issued before 31 December. If passengers need to change their travel plans, they can hold their ticket value for two years, benefit from unlimited date changes, or exchange their ticket for a future travel voucher with 10% extra value. If passengers have had their travel plans impacted by factors outside their control, they can change their destination – within the same continental region for Qatar Airways Privilege Club members or within the same country or a 500 mile radius for non-members, swap their ticket for Qmiles, or refund their ticket with no fees applied. Qatar Airways has issued USD $1.4 billion in refunds to almost 600,000 passengers – including $164.8 million in refunds to U.S. passengers – since March.
According to the latest IATA data, Qatar Airways became the largest international carrier between April to July by fulfilling its mission of taking people home. This enabled the airline to accumulate unmatched experience in carrying passengers safely and reliably and uniquely positioned the airline to effectively rebuild its network.
Onboard, Qatar Airways has stringently implemented the most advanced safety and hygiene measures, including the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for cabin crew and a complimentary protective kit and disposable face shields for passengers. Additionally, the carrier recently became the first international carrier to operate Honeywell’s Ultraviolet (UV) Cabin System, further advancing its hygiene measures onboard.
Qatar Airways’ home and hub, Hamad International Airport (HIA) – Best Airport in the Middle East and Third Best Airport in the World – has implemented stringent cleaning procedures and applied social distancing measures throughout its terminals. Passenger touchpoints are sanitized every 10-15 minutes and boarding gates and bus gate counters are cleaned after each flight. In addition, hand sanitizers are provided at immigration and security screening points.
Qatar Airways’ variety of modern fuel-efficient aircraft has allowed the airline to continue flying by offering the right capacity in each market. Due to COVID-19’s impact on travel demand, the carrier has taken the decision to ground its fleet of Airbus A380s as it is not commercially or environmentally justifiable to operate such a large aircraft in the current market. The airline’s fleet of 49 Airbus A350 and 30 Boeing 787 are the ideal choice for the most strategically important long-haul routes, including those in the U.S.