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Qatar Airways announced on Wednesday service to seven new destinations in 2019 — Izmir, Rabat, Malta, Davao, Lisbon, Mogadishu and Langkawi.
Speaking at ITB Berlin in Germany, and following the unveiling of Qatar’s new economy product, CEO Akbar Al Baker announced the new destinations and frequencies, hinting there would be another seven new destinations to be announced later in 2019.
In 2019, Qatar will begin flying from its hub in Doha (DOH) to:
- Izmir, Turkey — commencing May 23, 3x weekly with Airbus A320 aircraft
- Malta — commencing May 23, daily service with A320 aircraft
- Rabat, Morocco — commencing May 29, 3x weekly with Boeing 787 aircraft
- Davao, Philippines — commencing June 18, 1x weekly service with Boeing 787 aircraft. This limited service was explained as being due to current aircraft availability, but is planned to increase to 3x weekly
- Lisbon, Portugal — commencing June 24, daily service with Boeing 787 aircraft, following Qatar’s long-standing request for landing slots
- Mogadishu, Somalia — commencing July 1, 3x weekly service with Airbus A320 aircraft
- Langkawi, Malaysia — commencing Oct. 15, 3x weekly service with Boeing 787 aircraft.
It should be noted that Qatar has a history of failing to launch some promised destinations, such as its unusual plans to fly to Las Vegas, which was supposed to commence more than a year ago and still hasn’t.
TPG is at ITB Berlin this week and observed Al Baker being repeatedly pressed about the financial sense of expansion to new destinations during a period of global economic downturn. He insisted that Qatar is taking advantage of this situation, by expanding while other some airlines shrink and taking market share from them.
But he did admit Qatar will again post a yearly loss in 2018-2019, as it did in 2017-2018.
He also pointed out that the new mid- and long-haul destinations, which should total 14 by the end of 2019, are compensating for the Gulf blockade, which caused a loss of 22 Gulf destinations and he referred to as “illegal under international law.” He said operating costs have increased as a result of the blockade because of the additional flying time required to fly around blocked airspace.
Qatar was asked if it was considering any new ultra-long haul routes, considering it recently lost the title for world’s longest flight from Doha to Auckland service, when Singapore Airlines commenced nonstop flights from Singapore to Newark.
Al Baker advised that the focus on Qatar’s ultra-long haul routes was profitability rather than record holding, and there were no plans to find new routes to regain the title.
Featured image of Lisbon by Sean Pavone / Getty Images.
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