Qatar Airways new Seattle route won’t just be targeting India traffic

Qatar Airways new Seattle route won’t just be targeting India traffic (2)

Qatar Airways new Seattle service begins at four-weekly and will gradually increase to once-daily by the end of June.

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. 

This comes soon after announcing Abuja, one of 26 African destinations it’ll serve in 2021.

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.

Qatar Airways new Seattle route won’t just be targeting India traffic

Qatar Airways served 11 destinations in North America in 2019. San Francisco is coming in December 2020 and Seattle will begin in March 2021. Source: OAG Schedules Analyser.

Seattle schedule fits perfectly with existing North America timings at Doha

Of course, Qatar Airways operates a highly coordinated hub at Doha, driving connectivity. 

We analysed its hub structure back in March and found that it had three highly pronounced waves.  Take a look to see the geographic spread of its waves.

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
Boston 7 0745 1805
Chicago 7 0745 1620
Philadelphia 7 0755 1640
San Francisco 4 0755 1640
Seattle 4 0755 1640
Atlanta 7 0805 1610
Los Angeles 7 0805 1725
Dallas 7 0815 1630
JFK 7 0815 1615
Miami 7 0820 1615
Washington 7 0825 1615
Houston 7 0830 1630
Montreal 4 0830 1635
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.

Qatar Airways new Seattle route won’t just be targeting India traffic (2)

Here are Emirates’ top-25 O&Ds from Seattle in 2019. Hyderabad was top followed by Delhi and Bangalore. Source: booking data obtained via OAG Traffic Analyser.


  1. Dr P.B.Biwalkar says:

    Thank you QA.
    When LA and SF were added it was only logical that you extend your list to SEA as well. It will help many Indians and expats from Southeast Asia as well.

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