Fast-expanding Gulf carrier Qatar Airways has been forced to scale back its growth plans due to the ongoing grounding of the world’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet. The airline has confirmed it will launch its new Doha – Chicago route next month to a reduced capacity and as first reported by our Twitter account last week will defer the launch of flights to the Chinese city of Chengdu by around six months.
The ongoing grounding of the 787 has hit the airline hard and forced it to redeploy capacity on a number of routes. This has exacerbated an already difficult position for the carrier as Chief Executive Officer, Akbar Al Baker had revealed to The HUB earlier this year that the airline’s ambitious development plans were already been restricted by limited fleet capacity. Qatar Airways planned to open at least 14 new destinations in 2013 but the final total was dependent on how fast it could get aircraft delivered. “We have other places in mind… but a shortage of aircraft means we can’t serve them at the current time,” said Al Baker.
Qatar Airways now confirms that although it will proceed with the launch of flights to Chicago, its fourth US gateway, from April 10, 2013, the route will initially only be served on a three times weekly schedule rather than a daily service, although a fourth weekly frequency will come online from June 5, 2013. In addition, scheduled flights between Doha and Chengdu, the carrier’s sixth point in China, were due to start with three-flights-a-week from March 19, 2013 but the route launch has been postponed to a later date. According to its GDS inventory this flight is now scheduled to commence from September 3, 2013 although the airline has not yet officially confirmed a revised launch date.
Qatar Airways' corporate planners have been actively working on adjusting capacity on routes across its network as a result of the grounding of its Boeing 787s which has impacted operations. “We sincerely apologise to our customers for the inconvenience of the capacity adjustments caused by the grounding of the 787s, which is out of our hands. We are making every effort to ensure our valued customers are aware of these service updates and are accommodated accordingly,” said Akbar Al Baker.