The CEO of Qatar Airways has graciously offered to fly the new first class and business class products on Lufthansa and offer personal consultation to the CEO of Lufthansa on the “mistakes” that were made. Just another press conference for Akbar Al Baker…
Qatar Airways CEO On New Lufthansa Business And First Class Product
I first met His Excellency, Akbar Al Baker, the Chairman and CEO of Qatar Airways, onboard the inaugural Airbus A350 flight from Doha to Frankfurt in 2015. There, he regaled bloggers and journalists with declarations that business class on Qatar Airways is better than first class on other carriers.
In some ways, I agree with him, but Al Baker is an unabashed promoter of Qatar Airways and spares no words when talking about the competition. To Al Baker, diplomacy is not needed when you have a superior product.
His Excellency was asked about the new Lufthansa “Allegris” business and first class cabins as part of an hour-long press conference in Berlin earlier this week. First flagged by Paddle Your Own Kanoo and transcribed by One Mile At A Time, his comments are both hilarious and illuminating:
“Yes, I have seen it, I have seen images of it. Congratulations to him, but he is nearly 12 years behind Qatar Airways’ product improvement. And whilst he does that program, we are now going into our next evolution with Qatar Airways product.”
“I would love to. He’s my friend — okay, we are adversaries in business — but he is my friend, and if he will invite me, I will certainly fly in his product, and I will tell him how many mistakes he has made.”
“Let’s see when the product will be onboard. You know, you can always announce a product, it takes ages to put the product. Do you know how long it takes to develop the seat? You know, the Qsuite you see flying on Qatar Airways, was in development for nearly five years.”
“You should always fly on Qatar Airways, you’ll always get the best product. But you know, you can always put seats, you can put, you know, fancy stuff around the seats, but you can never deliver that human touch that Qatar Airways will give you. The passion, the hospitality, the attention, that you get on Qatar Airways, you can never get on somebody else.”
“A nice seat, privacy, you know, the partition up to the ceiling, virtual windows, it’s all good. At the end of the day, this is why you start paying so high prices against Qatar Airways, because we don’t have all this fancy rubbish on our airplanes, we have really a product people like.”
Al Baker makes several excellent points in throwing subtle shade at Lufthansa (and Emirates).
Recall that Lufthansa was preemptively awarded a SkyTrax five-star award for its new business class…in 2017. It’s 2023 and there is still not a single plane with the new product onboard (and Lufthansa has lost that fifth star). Al Baker rightly notes that it is one thing to talk about a new product but quite another to actually implement it.
I find it interesting that Al Baker focuses on the “human touch” at Qatar Airways. While I’ve had amazing flight attendants on Qatar Airways, I’ve also had many who were just (politely) going through the motions. What separates Qatar Airways from others, to me, is the superior business class seat (Qsuite) and the excellent onboard catering.
The Qatar Airways CEO is ready to accept an invitation to fly business and first class on the new Lufthansa Allegris product. That way, he can help Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr know all the mistakes that were made in developing the new product. While he arguably unfairly reduces the new Lufthansa product to “fancy rubbish” that has yet to materialize, there is certainly truth in some of his barbs.
image: Qatar Airways