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Qatar Airways Executive Talks Growth in Miami and Other U.S. Markets

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Juan Ruiz
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Juan Ruiz

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Juan has extensive experience in writing and editing content related to credit cards, loyalty programs, and travel. He has been honing his expertise in this field for over a decade. His work has been ...
Edited by: Stella Shon
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Stella Shon

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With a degree in media and journalism, Stella has been in the points and miles game for more than 6 years. She most recently worked as a Corporate Communications Analyst for JetBlue. Find her work in ...

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Qatar Airways, one of the world’s best airlines, took over as the official airline and global partner of Formula 1 last year. The carrier has a history of collaborating with internationally recognized sport organizations, including partnerships with FIFA, UEFA, and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).

Formula 1 has been gaining popularity in the U.S. in recent years, with the hosting of 3 major Grand Prix races in Las Vegas, Austin, and Miami. Qatar Airways has strategically partnered with this popular motorsport, positioning itself as a world-class airline and a destination for travelers in the U.S.

In celebration of this partnership, Qatar Airways organized an exclusive event for a group of media representatives at The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach, during the Miami Grand Prix race weekend. Upgraded Points had the opportunity to interview Thierry Antinori, Chief Commercial Officer of Qatar Airways, to discuss Qatar’s plans in Miami and elsewhere in the U.S. — keep reading for more.

How Profitable Is Qatar’s Miami to Doha Route?

Miami is 1 of 11 cities in the United States and 12 in North America that Qatar Airways serves daily from Doha. So, of course, our first question was how profitable the Miami route was compared to other U.S. destinations the airline serves.

Qatar Airways Logo Plane
Qatar Airways operates direct flights from the Middle East to the U.S. — more than any other Middle Eastern carrier.

“It’s one of the most successful cities for us,” said Thierry Antinori, Chief Commercial Officer of Qatar Airways. “Miami is a buzzing city that continues to grow. It’s quite amazing to see. The city has been the most dynamic hub in the U.S. for us in the last 12 months, as far as gross KPI is concerned. Therefore, we decided a couple of weeks ago to go from 7 to 10 weekly flights.”

Qatar offers daily flights from Miami to its hub in Doha, utilizing the Airbus A350-1000 on a daily basis and the Boeing 777-200LR 3 times a week.

According to Antinori, the airline is considering the possibility of increasing frequencies and offering 2 flights per day from South Florida to Doha, given the airline’s ongoing growth plans, with Miami as a focus city in the U.S.

Performance of Qatar Airways’ Service to the U.S.

“Our expansion plans depend on the U.S., which accounts for 17% of Qatar’s revenue. We’re strategically expanding in Miami and other U.S. cities to support these growth initiatives,” said Antinori.

As the Middle Eastern airline with the most direct routes to the U.S., we asked Antinori about Qatar Airways’ occupancy on these flights.

“As of last month (April 2024), all routes in our U.S. network were at 91% occupancy. We observed 88% occupancy in premium cabins. Miami outperformed those two figures in April.”

Bottom Line:

All year long, the airline achieves average occupancy rates of 90% on its routes between Doha and the U.S., indicating its strong performance in the Americas.

Qatar Airways’ Growth Strategy Beyond Miami

The airline’s evident objective is to expand in the U.S. market. Due to limited fleet resources, Qatar Airways’ commercial strategy is to continue focusing on the 12 U.S. cities already operational in the network by analyzing existing route frequencies.

“One of our main commercial strategies for our U.S. routes is to always operate with Qsuites, at least once daily, between each U.S. city we serve and our hub in Doha,” said Antinori.

Qatar Airways Qsuites
Qatar Airways’ award-winning Qsuites.

Antinori highlighted the airline’s commitment to maintaining solid partnerships with Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, and JetBlue. This collaboration ensures seamless connections for U.S. customers and enables travelers to reach their desired destinations without any hassle.

Qatar Plans to Continue Expanding Through Partnerships

In addition to its strong partnerships with renowned sports organizations like FIFA and Formula 1, Qatar Airways has recently introduced 2 new co-branded cards specifically designed for customers in the U.S.

We briefly touched on this exciting new partnership with Cardless, the innovative company behind Qatar Airways’ 2 new credit cards, and its significance for the airline. During our conversation, Antinori emphasized the significance of connecting with customers through various means beyond just flying.

Qatar F1 Partnership Sign
Qatar Airways’ will continue to build partnerships with U.S. businesses outside of travel.

“This is precisely what we aim to accomplish. We strive to bring about positive disruption (by partnering with Cardless), as we believe that every instance of disruption benefits our customers. At Qatar Airways, we prioritize providing exceptional customer service. If we treat our customers fairly and provide added value, they are more likely to return to us,” says Antinori.

Antinori mentioned they successfully established and executed this partnership in just 90 days, a significantly shorter timeframe than the usual 18 months (or longer) required for collaborating with a credit issuer for a co-branded card.

Final Thoughts

In the U.S. market, Qatar Airways and its highly acclaimed Qsuites business class will remain highly regarded and sought after by travelers flying between the U.S. and Doha and beyond. The airline has evident growth plans for its network in the U.S. and intends to further develop its sports and financial partnerships as part of these initiatives.

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About Juan Ruiz

Juan has extensive experience in writing and editing content related to credit cards, loyalty programs, and travel. He has been honing his expertise in this field for over a decade. His work has been featured in various prestigious publications, such as USA Today, CNN Underscored, Forbes and The Points Guy. Juan is the visionary behind JetBetter, a premier award booking concierge service.

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