Emirates drops Nagoya, adds San Francisco & Brisbane non-stop; Qatar to add six more routes this year

Image: Ali Al Rais
Last month’s Houston route announcement: (Ali Al Rais, EVP Commercial; Akbar Al Baker CEO; and Fathi Al Shehab, SVP Commercial Ops (Photo: Thanks to Monique A. Hitchings). Inset newspaper advertising for next week’s launch plays on the oil-industry links. Qatar Airways also has a dedicated micro site www.qatarairways.com/houston

Since anna.aero last looked at the “Middle East Big 3” (MEB3) airlines of Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways back in early December there have been relatively few network developments. The biggest surprise may be that Emirates actually dropped a route (to Nagoya in Japan) but it also started non-stop flights to San Francisco and added non-stop flights to Brisbane to complement the existing one-stop service via Singapore.

Bahrain still beating Heathrow for most MEB3 flights

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Combining weekly frequencies across all MEB3 airlines reveals that Bahrain with 90 weekly departures beats London Heathrow (84) for most services. Kuwait (74), Doha (56), Dubai (56) and Muscat (56) each have 50 or more weekly departures. Among long-haul destinations Heathrow is followed by Bangkok (49), Paris CDG and Johannesburg (35 each) and Frankfurt (34) as the most popular routes.

A total of 104 destinations are served non-stop by these three carriers, while several other destinations (notably in New Zealand) are served via intermediate points. The above data includes the launch next week of new routes by Etihad (to Melbourne) and Qatar Airways (to Houston).

Image: Etihad Stadium
In a major five year sponsorship deal to mark its arrival in the city next week, Melbourners have had to quickly get used to the re-naming their beloved Telstra Dome as “Etihad Stadium.”
Image: Qatar Airways
ITB Berlin earlier this month: Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker announces plans at to serve six new destinations in 2009 and increase frequency on eight existing routes.

Other currently planned new routes for 2009 from the MEB3 are limited to Emirates adding Durban (in October) and Etihad adding Athens (in June), Chicago O’Hare (in September) and Larnaca (in June).

Qatar Airways plans six new destinations this year

Apart from the new route to Houston, Qatar Airways has indicated that it plans to start six new routes this year including Melbourne and Sydney, Amritsar and Goa, and two as yet undisclosed destinations in Europe. Melbourne and Sydney are both already served by both Emirates and Etihad, but neither currently serves either Amritsar or Goa.

Route Current weekly
Increased weekly
Date of
Geneva 4 5 29 March
Lagos 5 7 29 March
Manila 11 14 29 March
Mashad 3 5 29 March
Muscat 15 21 29 March
Kuala Lumpur 7 10 1 June
Algiers 4 6 1 October
Tunis 4 5 5 October
Source: Qatar Airways


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