End of Qatar blockade – 20 routes and 1,400+ weekly flights could return

Qatar Airways began the 493-kilometre link with Gassim in 2013. It was typically served four-weekly using A320s. Come 2016, the year before the blockade began, it was one of nine destinations that the carrier served in Saudi Arabia. It was then double-daily using A320s and A321s. It’s very likely to return.

Flights will once again be able to resume between Qatar and Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. 

This follows the end of the blockade that started in 2017 and which often required circuitous detours that added significantly to block times, fuel burn, and competitiveness.

In full-year 2016, 16 airlines operated between Doha and these four countries, including on a fifth freedom basis.  They had 13.9 million seats and over one-quarter of Doha’s total capacity, OAG shows.

The UAE was top with over 7.7 million seats, followed by Saudi Arabia (3.2 million), Bahrain (1.7 million), and Egypt (1.2 million). 

Of course, Qatar Airways had by far the lion’s share of capacity to these countries.  It alone had 8.4 million, or six in ten of the total. They represented 19% of the network carrier’s total capacity that year. 

The other carriers in the top-five were Emirates (just over 1.6 million seats), flydubai (1.3 million), Gulf Air (576,000), and Etihad (509,000).

End of Qatar blockade – 20 routes and 1,400+ weekly flights could return

Across all airlines, Doha had 19 routes to destinations Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE in 2016. An additional route, Yanbu, was added the following year. Source: OAG Mapper.

End of Qatar blockade – 20 routes and 1,400+ weekly flights could return

In 2016, there were 19 scheduled routes from Doha to these four countries, with 14 having more than 200,000 seats. A 20th route, Yanbu, began in May 2017. 

These 19 routes combined typically had over 1,400 weekly flights (both ways), showing how things will likely be built up again. 

Qatar Airways served 18 of these 20 destinations, with nine in Saudi Arabia, five in the UAE, three in Egypt, and the 148-kilometre service to Bahrain.

Across all carriers, Dubai International was by far the top destination.  It had nearly 4.9 million seats and almost three times more than second-placed Bahrain.  Dubai Al Maktoum had a further 655,000.

In a typical week, the 378-kilometre route to Dubai had over 420 flights (both ways) across Qatar Airways, flydubai, and Emirates.  Widebodies had four in ten flights.

Four routes that were in Doha’s top-10 in 2016 will return: Dubai (Doha’s top route), Bahrain (second), Abu Dhabi (fifth), and Dammam (tenth).

It is noteworthy that Dammam, 225 kilometres from Doha with a block time of one hour, had more capacity than both Jeddah and Riyadh.

End of Qatar blockade – 20 routes and 1,400+ weekly flights could return

Source: OAG Schedules Analyser.


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