Qatar Airways has launched its luxe Business Class suites into the New Zealand market, saying it will not charge a premium for them - yet.
''We want to make sure that New Zealand customers really fall in love with this
and in time we'll be deciding whether we charge more or continue charging at (this) level,'' said Qatar Airways' senior manager for Australasia, Adam Radwanski.
''I think the product does warrant charging a premium - at the moment we believe we are competitively priced."
The airline is today promoting Business Class fares between Auckland and Dublin starting at $6549 return.
Qsuite, which has many First Class features has been fitted into its Boeing 777.200 aircraft flying the Auckland-Doha route, the second longest route in the world. The patented suites are a big step up on its existing seats for privacy and personal space for the 14,500km journey that can take 17h 30m.
Although some First Class cabins on other airlines feature seats and suites that can be made into double beds, Qsuite is the first-ever double available in Business Class. Panels that stow away allow passengers in adjoining seats to create their own private room.
The panels and movable TV monitors (which are 57cm wide) on the centre four seats allow workmates friends or families travelling together to transform their space into a private suite, allowing them to work, dine and socialise together.
It means Qsuite passengers all get direct aisle access from the 1-2-1 configuration, an improvement on the older style 2-2-2 seating.
But there is a catch for those not flying in the front of the plane. The Economy section has been retrofitted with more seats meaning the previous 3-3-3 configuration (with 217 seats) is now a tighter fit in the 3-4-3 layout in places to fit in another 13 seats.
Radwanski said the new slimline seats were more spacious and Economy passengers will get bigger and better meals from August.
The airline has a reputation for its attention to detail and the Qsuites make extensive use of Italian fabrics.
''That's essentially who we are - attention to detail and high standards,'' said Radwanski.
Flight attendant Braydin Tumataroa-Cann is one of about 10 Kiwis who work in the cabin of Qatar planes and said the daily Auckland-Doha flight was popular with crew because of the time they had in this country to enjoy time off.
The airline - which started flying to New Zealand in February 2017 - competes head-on with Dubai-based Emirates which uses the much larger Airbus A380 on its non-stop Auckland route. Those planes offer First Class suites with showers and those passengers and those in Business Class have access to a bar at the back of the premium upper deck.
Already fierce competition between the two airlines intensified when the United Arab Emirates joined a regional blockade of Qatar two years ago. This has forced Qatar to fly longer routes to avoid UAE and Saudi airspace. It is also unable to fly to many of its neighbouring countries which has hurt it financially and forced it to look for new routes.
Between them, Emirates and Qatar fly about 40 per cent of European and British passengers to New Zealand and a growing number of Kiwis north through the Middle East.
The Qsuite was shown off to travel industry and media groups this morning.
Auckland Airport general manager aeronautical commercial, Scott Tasker, said today that high quality business cabins were important for attracting high value visitors - the tourist industry's main target.
Qatar operates a fleet of more than 250 aircraft via its hub, Hamad International Airport, to more than 160 destinations worldwide.
This year it is adding a number of new destinations including Malta, Davao, Lisbon, Mogadishu, and Langkawi.