Qatar Airways is set to benefit from a new travel bubble between Qatar and India. The airline, which routinely flies passengers from India via a stop in Doha to hundreds of destinations around the world, had to stop those flights amid India’s suspension of international flights. Now, the Embassy of India in Doha has announced that India and Qatar have agreed to a travel bubble and opened up flight opportunities between the two countries.
India’s new travel bubble with Qatar
The Embassy of India in Qatar posted on Twitter an announcement highlighting the creation of an air bubble between Qatar and India that allows travel between the two countries. The bubble is valid from August 18th through the 31st.
— India in Qatar (@IndEmbDoha) August 14, 2020
As both Indian and Qatar Airways can offer flights between the two countries, Qatar Airways is expected to benefit from these offerings. Any Indian national destined for Qatar with a valid visa and no further travel restrictions can fly to Qatar. Essentially, this opens up flights from India to Qatar’s leading international airport in Doha.
Passengers flying from Qatar to India can be Indian citizens needing repatriation, people holding Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards with Qatari passports, and Qatari nationals with valid visas issued by an Indian Mission per guidelines from the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
Where did Qatar Airways fly in India?
Qatar Airways has not formally released its flight schedules to India carrying passengers, but it is expected that the airline will add flights. Qatar Airways is well-known for having continued to fly extensively through the current crisis despite travel restrictions. At the same time, it has grown its operations to the United States, Pakistan, Australia, and the United Kingdom among plenty of other countries.
In India, Qatar Airways traditionally offers nonstop flights from Doha to the following cities:
- Ahmedabad (AMD)
- Amritsar (ATQ)
- Bengaluru (BLR)
- Chennai (MAA)
- Delhi (DEL)
- Goa (GOI)
- Hyderabad (HYD)
- Kochi (COK)
- Kolkata (CCU)
- Kozhikode (CCJ)
- Mumbai (BOM)
- Nagpur (NAG)
- Thiruvananthapuram (TRV)
Several of these destinations are served with widebodies such as Airbus A330s and Boeing 787s. With the new travel bubble, Qatar Airways will likely not fly to all of these destinations, but some of the main ones such as Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, and others.
Given the restriction on selling flights for connecting passengers, Qatar Airways will not be able to tap into a large variety of passengers looking to go elsewhere.
Why will it work out for Qatar Airways?
Qatar Airways has strong brand loyalty in India with its traditional, over 102 flights per week to 13 destinations. Now, it is unclear how many flights Qatar Airways will run during this travel bubble period nor to how many destinations, but there could be a reason for Qatar Airways to offer flights from all 13 cities.
There is a significant Indian expat community in Doha. With flights suspended for some time now, there is likely some pent up demand for travel to visit family in either country. While Qatar Airways will have some competition, it may be able to win over more passengers thanks to its brand loyalty, and its wide breadth of operations in terms of cities served.
Do you think Qatar Airways will benefit from this travel bubble? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!