Qatar Airways is slowly rebuilding its global network. With the carrier’s return to Gatwick scheduled for next week, the airline will operate a full 45 weekly flights from Doha to the UK. The daily trek to the Sussex airport will be flown by the airline’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner, with Qatar keeping its currently “environmentally and financially unjustifiable” superjumbos on the ground.
Resilience of UK market
Qatar Airways is returning to London Gatwick next Thursday. From August 20th onwards, the gulf carrier will operate 45 weekly flights from Doha to the UK. Other than the daily flight to Gatwick, the airline serves London Heathrow with three daily flights, Manchester twice a day, and Edinburgh three times per week.
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“The UK is a very important strategic market for Qatar Airways, and we are proud of our repatriation efforts to-date including never stopping services between the UK and Doha that have helped bring over 200,000 passengers home,” Qatar CEO Mr Akbar Al Baker said in a statement seen by Simple Flying.
“The resumption of London Gatwick services is a significant indicator of the resilience of the UK travel market, and we look forward to resuming more of our UK destinations to support the recovery of tourism and trade in the region,” he continued.
Pre-crisis, Qatar also operated flights to Cardiff, Birmingham, and London Stansted.
Mr Stewart Wingate, Gatwick CEO, called Qatar’s return a positive step in the recovery process after what has been a “challenging time.” He also stated that the airport has worked alongside airlines to implement health safety precaution measures to help rebuild public confidence in air travel.
Qatar will be operating its Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the reinstated route. In a subtle criticism of its Gulf competitor Emirates, which has recently resumed A380 services between Dubai and London, Qatar said it is only flying “the right-sized aircraft” on its routes to the UK.
In addition, the airline said it is “reducing its environmental impact by offering sensible and responsible capacity.” Qatar’s own A380s remain grounded, as the airline says it is neither environmentally nor commercially justifiable to operate them at this time.
Qatar’s Dreamliner features 22 business class seats and 232 in economy. The airline has a total of 30 787-8s, with all but two active as of August 1st, according to data from Planespotters.net.
Seven 787-9s yet to enter into service
Officially, Qatar also has seven of the 20 feet longer 787-9. Their initial delivery was something of a fly-by, most likely for registration purposes. In December 2019, they flew from Boeing’s Everett facility all the way to Doha, and then back again across the Atlantic to have their interiors fitted with Qatar’s modified QSuite concept.
They did not return to Doha until late March and early April this year. However, they have been parked at Hamad International Airport ever since.
According to IATA, since April, Qatar Airways has become the largest international carrier. While other airlines have grounded entire fleets and paused operations altogether, Qatar’s network has never fallen under 30 destinations.