Qatar Airways new Seattle route won’t just be targeting India traffic
Qatar Airways will begin Doha – Seattle on 15 March on a four-weekly basis using 283-seat A350-900s. It’ll later rise to five-weekly and, from the end of June, operate once-daily.
Seattle will be Qatar Airways’ 14th destination in North America, joining San Francisco which begins on 15 December. The carrier started Los Angeles in 2016, so its West Coast presence will treble.
Alongside connecting traffic to/from Seattle, Alaska joining oneworld – and the feed available to Qatar Airways as a result – pushed its decision to begin Seattle. It’ll join fellow MEB3 operator Emirates, which began Seattle in 2012 and which in 2014 had a twice-daily offering.
American Airlines’ new non-stop route to Bangalore is now scheduled to operate from October 2021. While this is an important market from Seattle and will obviously capture a good proportion of current sixth freedom traffic to the southern Indian city, Delhi and Hyderabad are larger P2P markets from the Washington airport.
Of course, Bangalore is just one of many dozens of segments that Qatar Airways’ Seattle route will target, as we discuss below. As such, we do not expect its entrance to dissuade fellow oneworld member American Airlines from continuing with its Bangalore plan.
Qatar Airways had almost 2.6 million seats to/from North America last year. With 480,000, New York JFK was by far its top destination, although its share of capacity fell to just 19% as a result of multiple new routes starting in recent years. Perhaps surprisingly, Boston was its second-largest market.
Seattle schedule fits perfectly with existing North America timings at Doha
Of course, Qatar Airways operates a highly coordinated hub at Doha, driving connectivity.
Looking at the week starting 5 April, and with just one exception, Qatar Airways departures to North America will leave between 0745 and 0830 and they’ll arrive back the next day between 1610 and 1805.
Not surprisingly, Seattle’s timings effectively mirror its other North American routes: leaving at 0755 and arriving back at 1640.
These timings are designed to feed and to be fed by South Asia and, to a lesser degree, the Middle East and Africa services.
|Weekly flights each way: week of 5 April||Qatar Airways departures from Doha to North America||Arrivals into Doha|
|New York JFK||7||0215||0620|
|Qatar Airways North America timings are, of course, highly coordinated to drive connectivity. Seattle’s schedule mirrors this. Source: OAG Schedules Analyser.|
Qatar Airways to Seattle won’t just be targeting India traffic
The MEB3’s highly coordinated schedule to North America means that it is easy to look at its core connecting markets and to relate to Seattle demand.
Not surprisingly, in 2019 over half of Qatar Airways North American traffic was to/from South Asia.
India was by far its top country market with over one-third of demand. It had nearly five times as many passengers as Pakistan.
Iran, Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, and Kuwait all had strong demand too. On a regional level, Africa and the Middle East were important traffic-wise.
Looking at over 70 O&Ds, excluding those in Southeast and Northeast Asia for obvious reasons, there’s an opportunity of over 350,000 for Qatar Airways to target from Seattle. This excludes Doha P2P and feed over Seattle from Alaska Airlines.
From Seattle, Qatar Airways will focus on India, while Ethiopia, South Africa, Kenya, and Pakistan are other main markets that it’ll be able to actively target. This highlights an issue: India is so well-demanded from across its network that new routes probably shouldn’t be overly focused on this market.