Qatar Airways set to overtake Emirates in terms of network spread; seven more destinations outlined for 2012
While Qatar Airways is likely to remain smaller in total size than its near neighbour Emirates for the foreseeable future, one area in which the Doha-based carrier seems keen to overtake its Dubai-based rival is with regards to the number of destinations served. This week, at the Dubai Air Show, the airline announced another batch of new routes which it plans to launch during the course of 2012, though exact start dates have yet to be finalised. Our last comparison of the networks of the Middle East’s big 3 (MEB3) carriers revealed how quickly Qatar Airways had caught Emirates in terms of network spread with both carriers serving around 100 destinations with their scheduled passenger services.
Helsinki, Perth and Zagreb to welcome Qatar Airways in 2012
Of the seven new routes announced this week, the only one already served by Emirates (or Etihad) is Perth, which is already served twice-daily by Emirates. The table below summarises which other airlines operate to major hub airports from each of the seven new destinations Qatar Airways plans to serve.
|Destination (code) – Country||Major international services to hub airports in other countries|
|Gassim (ELQ) – Saudi Arabia||Air Arabia (Sharjah), flydubai (Dubai), Gulf Air (Bahrain from 17 Jan 12)|
|Helsinki (HEL) – Finland||Most European flag carries to their home bases.|
|Kigali (KGL) – Rwanda||Brussels Airlines (Brussels via Entebbe), Ethiopian Airlines (Addis Ababa), Kenya Airways (Nairobi), KLM (Amsterdam via Entebbe)|
|Mombasa (MBA) – Kenya||Ethiopian Airlines (Addis Ababa), Kenya Airways (Nairobi)|
|Perth (PER) – Australia||AirAsia X (Kuala Lumpur), Cathay Pacific (Hong Kong), Emirates (Dubai), Malaysia Airlines (Kuala Lumpur), Singapore Airlines (Singapore),|
|Zagreb (ZAG) – Croatia||Aeroflot (Moscow), Air France (Paris CDG), Austrian (Vienna), Czech Airlines (Prague), easyJet (London Gatwick), Lufthansa (Frankfurt and Munich), Malev (Budapest), Turkish Airlines (Istanbul)|
|Zanzibar (ZNZ) – Tanzania||Ethiopian Airlines (Addis Ababa), Kenya Airways (Nairobi)|
|Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 7 November 2011|
By launching Helsinki flights, Qatar Airways will become the first of the MEB3 carriers to serve four Nordic capitals: Copenhagen, Helsinki, Oslo and Stockholm. The airline’s expansion programme in 2011 has so far seen the launch of flights to 14 destinations; in chronological order – Bucharest (Romania), Budapest (Hungary), Brussels (Belgium), Stuttgart (Germany), Aleppo (Syria), Shiraz (Iran), Venice (Italy), Montréal (Canada), Medina (Saudi Arabia), Kolkata (India), Sofia (Bulgaria), Oslo (Norway), Benghazi (Libya) and Entebbe (Uganda). The Chinese city of Chongqing becomes Qatar Airways’ final new route of 2011, being launched as its fifth gateway in China on 28 November. Previously announced new routes for 2012 consist of Isfahan (January), and Baku and Tbilisi (both in February).
What they said
Speaking at the Dubai Air Show on Wednesday, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker unveiled the new destinations, stressing the airline’s relentless expansion strategy was continuing with vigour. “We are continuing what we started back in 1997 when Qatar Airways was launched with new routes and new aircraft being introduced at an unprecedented rate to further strengthen what is truly a global network airline. Our mission has been to operate to key business and leisure destinations around the world, but also to underserved markets where others dare not venture into. We take bold decisions to serve certain markets because we believe it makes strong business sense. Today’s announcement shows the confidence Qatar Airways has in such a diverse range of destinations. We look forward to offering even greater choice to the travelling public that they so deserve.”