Emirates and Qatar Airways both reach 100 destination milestone; MEB3 carriers have 18 new routes planned

Emirates and Qatar Airways both reach 100 destination milestone; MEB3 carriers have 18 new routes planned

Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, is Qatar Airways’ latest new destination. The airline is now serving nearly as many destinations as its main rival Emirates, although the UAE airline has announced seven further destinations to be added in the coming months, compared with Qatar Airways’ five.

Since anna.aero last looked at the “Middle East Big 3” (MEB3) airlines of Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways back in October 2010, there have been 15 new non-stop route launches, of which Qatar Airways has been responsible for 10.

Emirates (Dubai) Etihad (Abu Dhabi) Qatar Airways (Doha)
Basra (Iraq)
Copenhagen (Denmark)
Geneva (Switzerland)
Bangalore (India)
Seoul (S Korea)
Aleppo (Syria)
Brussels (Belgium)
Bucharest (Romania)
Budapest (Hungary)
Kolkata (India)
Medinah (Saudi Arabia)
Montreal (Canada)
Shiraz (Iran)
Stuttgart (Germany)
Venice (Italy)
Source: anna.aero new route database

Of these, Aleppo, Basra, Bucharest, Budapest, Montreal, Shiraz and Stuttgart are new destinations for the MEB3 carriers taken as a whole. Both Emirates and Qatar Airways have (for the moment) dropped flights to Tripoli in Libya, while Qatar Airways also gave up its London Gatwick route in favour of an additional daily flight to Manchester.

Qatar Airways has caught Emirates for destinations

As a result, Emirates now serves 95 destinations non-stop from Dubai, Qatar Airways serves 91 destinations non-stop from Doha, and Etihad now operates non-stop to 62 destinations from Abu Dhabi. Including those destinations that are served via an intermediate stop, both Emirates and Qatar Airways have reached the 100 mark, while Etihad is on 65. Qatar Airways added new one-stop routes to Hanoi (via Bangkok), Nice (via Milan Malpensa) and Sofia (via Bucharest), and now serves Casablanca via Tunis rather than via Tripoli.

Since our last analysis almost a year ago, Emirates has increased its non-stop flights from its home base by a modest 4.0%, Etihad by 6.5% and Qatar Airways by a massive 17.7%.

More new routes planned for remainder of 2011 and 2012

Routes so far announced by the MEB3 carriers which have not yet launched are:

  • Emirates (7 routes) to St Petersburg (1 November), Baghdad (13 November), Rio de Janeiro (3 January 2012), Buenos Aires via Rio (3 January 2012), Dublin (9 January 2012), Lusaka (1 February 2012), and Harare via Lusaka (1 February 2012).
  • Etihad (6 routes) to Male (1 November), Seychelles (2 November), Chengdu (15 December), Düsseldorf (16 December), Shanghai (1 March 2012), and Nairobi (1 April 2012).
  • Qatar Airways (5 routes) to Oslo (5 October), Entebbe (2 November), Chongqing (28 November), Baku (1 February 2012), and Tbilisi via Baku (1 February 2012).

Download Spreadsheet: Middle East Hub Comparison


  1. Bruno says:

    Does your analysis include routes served both non-stop and 1-stop ? Seems that some such routes are not taken into account.
    eg EK in HKG:
    – 7 weekly non-stop [in your table]
    – + 7 weekly one-stop (through BKK) [not in your table]

  2. Bjørn Radtke says:

    I am just curious as to why you excluded the Grandfather of Gulf aviation–Gulf Air (GF). Granted they have pulled back in recent years but they still have 48 destinations.

    • The three largest Gulf carriers share similar business models and growth ambitions, which is why we have coined the expression ‘MEB3’ and choose to analyse these airlines separately from other carriers in the region.

Comments are closed