Africa Dreaming: Qatar Airways Doubles Nigeria Network

Qatar Airways has announced Kano and Port Harcourt, doubling its network to Nigeria. Starting in less than two months, they’ll route via Abuja, with the Nigerian capital rising to once-daily. Meanwhile, it seems that Lagos’s frequency will halve. We check out the latest development.

Qatar Airways 787
Qatar Airways will now serve four cities in Nigeria. Photo: Qatar Airways.

Qatar Airways adds Kano and Port Harcourt

Kano and Port Harcourt will join Qatar Airways’ Africa network, meaning the carrier will now serve four cities across Nigeria. That’s twice as many as Emirates, one more than Turkish Airines, and the same number as Ethiopian Airlines, by far Africa’s largest airline.

The two additions bring to eight the number of African destinations added by Qatar Airways since the pandemic started. They join Abidjan, Abuja, Accra, Harare, Luanda, and Lusaka, while Cairo and Alexandria resumed following the end of the blockade. As Hendrik Du Preez, the airline’s Vice-President for Africa, said last year: there is huge potential across the continent for new routes.Expect more announcements soon.

Qatar Airways to Kano and Port Harcourt
Qatar Airways currently spends nearly 10 hours on the ground in Abuja (ABV). This significant downtime, for connectivity reasons, has enabled Kano (KAN) and Port Harcourt (PHC) to be added. Image: GCMap.

Stay awareSign up for my weekly new routes newsletter.

What’s happening?

Doha-Kano will run on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, and Doha-Port Harcourt on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Kano starts on March 2nd and Port Harcourt the next day. They have the following schedule (all times are local) and they’ll use 254-seat B787-8s, with 22 seats in business and 232 in economy.

  • QR1431: Doha-Abuja, 01:45-07:20; Abuja-Kano: 08:50-09:50; four-weekly
  • QR1432: Kano-Abuja: 18:35-19:35; Kano-Doha: 21:05-05:15+1 the following day
  • QR1433: Doha-Abuja; 01:45-07:20; Abuja-Port Harcourt: 08:50-10:00; three-weekly
  • QR1434: Port Harcourt-Abuja; 18:25-19:35; Abuja-Doha: 21:05-05:15+1
Qatar Airways 787 Watercannon
Booking data shows that from Kano, Saudi Arabia, UAE, China, India, and the UK will be among the largest markets to target. Photo: Qatar Airways.

How will Abuja and Lagos change?

The two added cities mean that Abuja will rise to once-daily. Launched 13 months ago, it operated four-weekly via Lagos until December 2021. It ditched the one-stop but continued to operate four-weekly non-stop. Now it’ll rise to daily.

The aircraft currently remains on the ground in Abuja from 07:20 until 21:05, so it’s very easy to fit in Kano and Port Harcourt. One-stops are important to Qatar Airways, but there will be no eighth freedom traffic rights (so-called cabotage) as these are domestic links.

The one-stop via Lagos helped that city – the largest in Africa – to become twice-daily. However, its website shows it’ll reduce to once-daily, and the B787-8 will still operate. That’s a significant capacity drop, but it’ll hopefully help with fares, TRASM, load factor, and overall performance.

Qatar Airways to Lusaka and Harare
Eight new African destinations have been added since 2000, including Luanda, where this photo was taken. Photo: Kenneth Kaunda International Airport.

More choice is good

Qatar Airways will join other carriers linking Kano and Port Harcourt to the outside world. In particular, Kano sees Ethiopian Airlines to Addis Ababa (returning February 16th; three-weekly using the B787-8), Saudia to Jeddah (returning March 29th, four-weekly, B777-300ER), and EgyptAir (currently twice-weekly, rising to five; B737-800/A330-300).

Port Harcourt – the oil capital of Nigeria – sees Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines. Lufthansa serves Frankfurt via Abuja in both directions. It is presently three-weekly by the A330-300 but will rise to five-weekly. Meanwhile, Turkish Airlines will resume Istanbul-Port Harcourt from March 28th. It’ll operate on a triangular basis, routing Istanbul-Port Harcourt-Malabo-Istanbul, three-weekly using B737-900ERs.

What do you make of this development? Let us know in the comments.