Qatar Airways Is Planning to Create a Major Hub in Oman

Jul 13, 2017

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.


Update 7/16/17: A Qatar Airways spokesperson has reached out, stating that QR has no plans to open a second hub in Oman. The airline provided the following statement:

This report is incorrect. Passengers from our new destination Sohar can fly on to more than 150 destinations connecting through our home and hub, Hamad International Airport in Doha.

Huge news for passengers who often fly via the Middle East! Sources familiar with the matter have confirmed that Qatar Airways is planning to open a major hub in Oman, which is now being referred to as ‘The Second Doha Hamad.’ The new hub will be a ‘gateway to the rest of the world’ for Qatar Airways, and will be located at Sohar International Airport (OHS), in Oman. OHS is situated on the northern coast of the Middle Eastern nation, west of its capital, Muscat, and near the border with the United Arab Emirates.

Screen Shot 2017-07-13 at 20.17.52

Why a ‘Second Doha Hamad’ in Oman?

Qatar is in the middle of a complete blockade from its neighbors in the Gulf — the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt. As a result, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker has ruled out any further investment in those nations, and said he’ll look elsewhere to drive profits for the airline. The carrier has already confirmed that it will fly between Doha (DOH) and Sohar (OHS) with three flights weekly beginning August 8, 2017, which is the first step of establishing Qatar’s ‘second hub.’

Screen Shot 2017-07-13 at 21.09.26

Oman is maintaining its neutrality in the current political rift, and it’s friendly with the majority of the Gulf region. There are also other factors that could explain why Oman would be an attractive second hub for Qatar Airways:

    • Sohar (OHS) is situated very close to the UAE border. 88.5% of the UAE’s total population is expats, and because of the the blockade (which looks like it could last a very long time), they’re unable to fly direct to Doha (DOH), like they could have in the past. However, with a second hub in OHS, these expats will only be about an hour away from an airport offering access to Qatar’s route network.
    • Qatar has invested a lot in OHS, and a source familiar with the expansion says a recruitment drive has already started for airport managers, service agents, sales executives and other positions.
    • Qatar has a lot of aircraft out of schedule at the moment. These aircraft are currently not being used, though normally as they would be flying to Qatar’s two biggest markets: Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as popular destinations in Bahrain and Egypt. Some of these planes are flying for British Airways at the moment, helping it manage the ongoing strike — however when the BA strike ends, they’ll be back in Doha, where they’d be sitting unused on the ground. A new hub give these aircraft new purpose and could improve aircraft optimization for Qatar.
    • Al Maha (shown below) was intended to be an airline that would operate in Saudi Arabia as a subsidiary of Qatar Airways. However, Qatar had problems obtaining the licenses necessary to operate these routes, and so the CEO gave up and said he would ‘look elsewhere.’ These Al Maha aircraft have different cabins from Qatar’s jets. Due to the inconsistency of the cabins, they would be better situated at a new base, flying routes within the range of the A320.
    • The new flight between Doha (DOH) and Sohar (OHS) could act as a ‘feeder flight,’ allowing passengers to begin their itinerary flying Qatar Airways from Sohar, Oman and continue their travel from Doha (DOH) Hamad International.
Image courtesy of Qatar Airways.

Which Destinations Will be Served From Sohar?

Sources familiar with the matter have said that there are plans for about 15 destinations from the new base in Sohar, and plans for the following destinations are being discussed:

  • Amsterdam (AMS)
  • Bali (DPS)
  • Bangkok (BKK)
  • Delhi (DEL)
  • London (LHR)
  • Paris (CDG)
  • Phuket (HKT)
  • Tbilisi (TBS)
  • Zagreb (ZAG)
  • Zurich (ZRH)

Other potential routes on the table include destinations as far as Sydney (SYD) and Kuala Lumpur (KUL), although it’s likely that these routes would be announced in a future expansion of the Sohar hub, rather than be a part of the initial route network.

Which Qatar Airways Aircraft could be based at Sohar?

While it’s not clear exactly how many Qatar Airways aircraft will be based at the airline’s second hub, it’s understood that plans for the short-haul fleet which is currently grounded due to the blockade, will be the first planes to operate from OHS. It’s worth highlighting that A320/A321 aircraft are able to fly European routes such as Paris (CDG) and Zagreb (ZAG), and Qatar operated an Airbus A319 between Doha and London not too long ago. Despite the blockade and the challenges it’s presenting to the airline, Qatar continues to expand its fleet, and will take delivery of their first Airbus A350-1000 XWB later this year, and several A321neos soon after.

Image courtesy of Qatar Airways.

Bottom Line

These are certainly huge plans for Qatar Airways, and it’s welcome news to those who connect regularly in the Middle East. As Qatar Airways prepares to establish a second gateway, expats living in United Arab Emirates will soon have not just a direct link to Doha, but access to Qatar’s route network. It’s also good news for passengers, as more choice often means lower ticket prices. A popular cost-saving technique for savvy passengers flying through the Middle East would be to fly Qatar Airways between Dubai (DXB) and Doha (DOH) before leaving from Doha to a long-haul destination. With a second hub in Sohar, passengers could use the gateway to take advantage of cheaper fares, better flight times or even entirely new destinations.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.