Yesterday, at the opening day of the 2020 Kuwait Aviation Show, Qatar Airways announced that it would be starting service to eight new destinations over the course of this year. The destinations are incredibly diverse and continue to challenge the offerings of its major rivals in the region.
The announcement was made by Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker with a number of fellow airline executives from the company:
“Eight new destinations will be joining our network this year in addition to the recently announced gateways of Santorini, Greece; Dubrovnik, Croatia; and Osaka, Japan. With these new routes, our operations will expand to 177 destinations around the world, reinforcing our position as one of the world’s most connected airlines. This ensures we can continue to provide our passengers more options and flexibility when planning their business and leisure travel.”
The new destinations
Below are the destinations as announced by Qatar Airways, along with frequencies and start dates:
- Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan – Two weekly flights (starting 30 March 2020)
- Almaty, Kazakhstan – Two weekly flights starting 1 April 2020, increasing to four weekly flights from 25 May 2020
- Cebu, Philippines – Three weekly flights (starting 8 April 2020)
- Accra, Ghana – Daily flights (starting 15 April 2020)
- Trabzon, Turkey – Three weekly flights (starting 20 May 2020)
- Lyon, France – Five weekly flights (starting 23 June 2020)
- Luanda, Angola – Four weekly flights (starting 14 October 2020)
- Siem Reap, Cambodia – Five weekly flights (starting 16 November 2020)
This amazingly diverse list of destinations includes cities that aren’t too well served by large international airlines. In fact, its archrival Emirates operates services to four of the eight cities listed above – although Emirates does have a very strong partnership with flydubai, which does fly to the two Kazakh cities.
Opening up Kazakhstan
Of particular interest is the fact that there are two cities that will be served in Kazakhstan: Almaty and Nur-Sultan (previously known as Astana). Kazakhstan has seen quite a few developments in the last year on the civil aviation front.
Firstly, Kazakh national carrier Air Astana has been expanding rapidly. From launching a brand new low-cost subsidiary to receiving its first A321LR, the airline has certainly been making itself known in the news. With the expansion of its low-cost subsidiary, Fly Arystan, and the continued roll-out of its A321LR fleet, the airline is certainly one to watch in 2020.
Furthermore, the new low-cost carrier Air Arabia Abu Dhabi will be serving the city of Almaty three times weekly once it launches. Air Arabia Abu Dhabi is tied closely with major Middle East airline Etihad and will see many of its smaller routes connect through to long-haul Etihad services through their shared hub at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
Finally, The U.S. Department of State recently signed an Open Skies agreement with Kazakhstan which opens travel possibilities between the two countries. This latest development allows more freedom for airlines operating in both countries, from the constraints of government regulators to develop their networks based on customer demand. No airlines fly between the two countries as yet.
While it won’t be surpassing Turkish Airlines (with its 304 destinations) anytime soon, Qatar Airways is certainly expanding impressively out of its hub, Hamad International Airport (HIA). With more than 160 destinations worldwide, the airline added several exciting new destinations to its growing network last year, including Rabat, Morocco; Izmir, Turkey; Malta; Davao, Philippines; Lisbon, Portugal; Mogadishu, Somalia; Langkawi, Malaysia; and Gaborone, Botswana.
Certainly, the airline will have done its research on market demand. But how do you think these routes will fair? Let us know by leaving a comment!