Qatar Airways has unveiled a new Business Class suite it says will revolutionise travel in the premium cabin.
QSuite, which has many First Class features, will be introduced on aircraft flying the Auckland-Doha route from the middle of next year.
The airline's chief executive Akbar Al Baker told a packed press conference at the ITB travel Expo in Berlin that his airline was ''raising the bar" in air travel. He said the airline was also working on new Economy Class seats.
The airline said QSuite features the industry's first-ever double bed available in Business Class, with privacy panels that stow away, allowing passengers in adjoining seats to create their own private room. Adjustable panels and movable TV monitors (which are 57cm wide) on the centre four seats allows workmates friends or families travelling together to transform their space into a private suite, allowing them to work, dine and socialise together.
Al Baker joked that ''quiet please" signs maybe needed for couples travelling together, later saying ; ''I'm sure people in the air will behave themselves."
The airline had patented the suites.
''Not only have we developed something of a revolution but we have patented it so none of my competitors will be able to copy as in the past when we raise the bar they then follow us." He said it was ''way above" what anybody else would ever attempt and would change the way that people travel in Business Class.
The first of the retrofitted planes would be operating between Doha and London by June and rolled out across existing Boeing 777 and Airbus A350 planes during the following 18 months. The airline - which started flying to New Zealand just over a month ago - will have the suites installed in new model 777s and A350s as they start to enter the fleet.
He would not reveal the cost of QSuite programme but it is another shot in the fierce fight at the top end of the market being fought by Gulf carriers.
At the other corner of the exhibition hall Emirates was showing off its new lounge bar while in the middle of the room Etihad was exhibiting its three-room residences.
Pricing has not been released for the Qatar suites but they will not take up more space on the aircraft than existing business class seats. Typically if they have to take up much more space for new products fares will go up accordingly. Al Baker said the suites in business would not cannibalise its First Class offering because they would be in different aircraft types than the A380 double decker the airline operated.
They will be installed in a 1-2-1 configuration which will be welcomed by Business Class passengers on the airline's existing 777s who are two abreast against the windows.
The suites will be manufactured by BE Aerospace and the seats fold down to fully flat 2m-long beds. ITB is one of the world's biggest travel expos. Over the course of five days more than 10,000 companies from 184 countries will be represented on 1092 stands - including 15 New Zealand operators.
- Grant Bradley travelled to Berlin courtesy of Qatar Airways
As reported in NZ Herald
submitted by -- Gayle