By Aaron Karp & David Casey
Three years after first announcing its intention to begin flights to San Francisco, Qatar Airways looks set to make good on its promise.
Service will be operated Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays using an Airbus A350-900 with 36 business-class seats and 247 seats in the economy cabin.
“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,” Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker said.
Business-class passengers on the flight will sit in the carrier’s Qsuite with sliding privacy doors and the option to use a “do not disturb” sign.
Other US destinations served by the Doha-based member of oneworld include Boston (BOS), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Houston Intercontinental (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK), Philadelphia (PHL) and Washington Dulles (IAD).
By mid-December, the carrier will fly 55 weekly flights to nine destinations in the US. Atlanta (ATL) and Miami (MIA), served before the COVID-19 pandemic, remain suspended.
Qatar Airways previously announced plans to fly to SFO in April 2017, with flights on board Boeing 777-300ER slated to begin the following year. However, the route never materialized.
Should the latest attempt to start a DOH-SFO service begin as planned in December, it will become the Californian airport’s third nonstop destination in the Middle East.
United Airlines and El Al Israel Airlines each serve Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International (TLV), while Emirates Airline serves SFO from Dubai (DXB). However, the latter route remains suspended and its planned resumption has been cancelled during the upcoming northern winter season.
According to data provided by Sabre Market Intelligence, 296,000 two-way passengers flew nonstop between DXB and SFO in 2019. On the DXB-SFO leg, almost 80% of traffic was behind.
As well as capturing demand from the suspension of Emirates’ service, SFO is a strong market for Alaska Airlines, which is set to join oneworld, and American Airlines. Both partners should be able to provide feed for Qatar Airways’ flights.
Photo credit: Joe Pries