Doha-based Qatar Airways is adding Lusaka and Harare to its departures board, significantly boosting the airline’s African network. In a neat twist, Qatar Airways is covering both cities in a single aircraft rotation out of Doha.
Qatar Airways has ambitions plans for Africa
Three times a week, a Qatar Airways Airbus A350-900 will depart Doha (DOH) for Lusaka (LUN) before continuing onto Harare (HRE). After spending the afternoon in Zimbabwe, the aircraft will return to Lusaka before heading back to Doha.
“We have ambitious plans for Africa, which is one of the fastest-growing economic regions of the world,” said Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker. “We see enormous potential in not just outbound travel from Zimbabwe and Zambia, but also inbound traffic from India, UK, and Americas.”
The new flights reflect Qatar Airways’ growing interest in the continent right on its doorstep. Qatar Airways recently resumed flights to Alexandria, Cairo, and Khartoum. The airline has also launched entirely new routes into Africa, including Accra, Abidjan, Abuja, Luanda.
Passengers on the new Lusaka and Harare flights will travel in style. Qatar Airways has fitted out its A350-900 aircraft with 247 seats in economy class and 26 Qsuites in business class.
Pushing back from Doha at the unseemly hour of 02:20 on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, QR1455 will take seven and a half hours to fly south to Lusaka, landing at 08:50. After 90 minutes on the ground, the flight will continue onto Harare at 10:20, arriving in the Zimbabwean capital at 11:20.
At 18:55 on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday evenings, QR1456 will push back from Harare and scoot back to Lusaka, landing there at 19:55. The A350-900 will spend 90 minutes on the ground in Lusaka before departing for Doha at 21:25. The plane will land back in DIA at 05:55 the following morning.
Flights are a welcome boost to both Harare and Lusaka Airports
Qatar Airways says these flights will provide more than 30 tonnes of cargo capacity per week in each direction. The airline expects to fly pharmaceuticals, automotive, and technology equipment into Zambia and Zimbabwe. In the opposite direction, Qatar Airways says its flights will offer speedy export of vegetables and flowers to destinations across Europe and Asia.
“We look forward to strengthening trade and tourism links between Zimbabwe and Zambia, and destinations on the Qatar Airways network, and steadily grow these routes to support the recovery of tourism and trade in the region,” says the Qatar Airways CEO.
Harare makes an interesting addition to Qatar’s network. The airport was once a busy African hub. However, Zimbabwe’s pariah nation status and chronic economic and security problems saw many airlines abandon HRE.
Just 14 airlines now fly into the airport, including Air Zimbabwe, FastJet Zimbabwe, and Global Africa Aviation, who all have bases there. Ethiopian Airlines and Emirates are among the headline international carriers flying into the airport. The arrival of Qatar Airways will give Harare Airport some much-needed connectivity.
The situation is not much brighter at Lusaka’s Kenneth Kaunda International Airport. Sixteen airlines fly to 20 destinations in 13 countries from LUN. Zambia’s biggest airport has a similar carrier profile to Harare – top-heavy with smaller regional African airlines. Like HRE, Ethiopian and Emirates both fly into Lusaka. Also, much like Harare, the thrice-weekly Qatar Airways A350-900s will make a very nice addition on the Lusaka Airport apron