Qatar Airways’ Fifth Freedom Routes

Qatar Airways 777
Qatar operates the 777 on two of three fifth-freedom routes. Photo: Boeing

Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh

This flight connects Vietnam’s ‘southern capital’ with the capital city of Cambodia.

Operating as QR970 and 971, these flights last an amazingly short 35-45 minutes with some services getting down to as short as 28 minutes. Considering that this route is operated by a massive Boeing 777-300ER, this has to be one of the shortest flights with the largest of aircraft. It must come fairly close to Emirates’ A380 service between Dubai and Muscat.

The order of cities is for this route is: Doha – Phnom Penh – Ho Chi Minh City – Phnom Penh – Doha.

São Paulo to Buenos Aires

Connecting Brazil’s most populous city with the capital of Argentina is flight pair QR773 and QR774.

This journey lasts two and a half to three hours and uses a Boeing 777-200LR. The interesting thing about this route is that it has two fifth-freedom competitors: Ethiopian Airlines and Turkish Airlines. The Ethiopian service uses a Boeing 787 while Turkish uses a 777.

The order of cities is: Doha – São Paulo – Buenos Aires – São Paulo – Doha

Djibouti to Mogadishu

Finally, there is QR1459 and 1460. These flights connect the capitals of Somalia and Djibouti. Operated by a relatively small Airbus A320, the flights only last about 90 to 100 minutes. Interestingly, it also has another fifth-freedom competitor: Turkish Airlines. Turkish uses a 737 on the route.

The order of cities is: Doha – Djibouti – Mogadishu – Djibouti – Doha

qatar a320
The smaller A320 connects the African cities of Djibouti and Mogadishu. Photo: Per Aspera Ad Astra via Wikimedia

Other quirky QR flights

With the following routes, Qatar Airways does not have the rights to transport passengers between its destination cities. The destination cities are strictly for the purposes of unloading passengers from, or taking passengers to, Doha.

Doha – Johannesburg – Gaborone: The service began on October 27th, 2019 and is the first airline outside of Africa to land in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana.

Doha – Johannesburg – Durban: This service uses an Airbus A350 and the short hop from Johannesburg to Durban is only about 70 minutes (50 minutes of flight time).

Doha – Sydney – Canberra: This service began on February 2nd, 2018 and connects residents of Australia’s capital city to the rest of the world via Doha (and vice versa).

Doha – Entebbe – Kigali: This flight serves the capital cities of Uganda and Rwanda using a Boeing 787-8. Going between the two East African cities is a short 30-40 minutes.

Doha – Penang – Langkawi: This flight serves two destinations in the northern area of Malaysia using a Boeing 787-8. The journey between Penang and Langkawi is a mere 20 minutes of flight time!

Did we miss any interesting Qatar Airways routes? Let us know!

Qatar Airways 777
Qatar Airways’ widebody fleet consists of the A380, A350, and of course the Boeing 787 and 777. Photo: Darren Koch via Wikimedia Commons


We wish we could report that the airline had more of these routes on offer. Qatar Airways, after all, is usually quite well regarded for its high standard of service and it would be nice if more of the world could experience it (without transiting through Doha).

Have you flown any of these fifth-freedom routes operated by Qatar Airways? Let us know if you enjoyed them by leaving a comment!

We asked Qatar Airways to confirm that it only operates three true fifth-freedom routes. We also asked the airline if it had any public reason for not going the same way as Emirates and offering more destinations through these types of routes. At the time of publishing we have yet to receive a response.