Despite Blockade Qatar Airways Reveals Aggressive Expansion Plan and 16 New Destinations
Qatar Airways, despite a blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia and some regional neighbours, has announced aggressive new expansion plans - including to 16 new destinations in 2018 and 2019.
The announcement was made at the ITB travel show in Berlin by Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker.
Qatar Airways will be the first Gulf carrier to begin direct service to Luxembourg. Other new destinations include London Gatwick, United Kingdom; Cardiff, United Kingdom; Lisbon, Portugal; Tallinn, Estonia; Valletta, Malta; Cebu and Davao, Philippines; Langkawi, Malaysia; Da Nang, Vietnam; Bodrum, Antalya and Hatay, Turkey; Mykonos and Thessaloniki, Greece; and Málaga, Spain.
In addition, services to Warsaw, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Prague and Kyiv will increase to a double daily frequency, while services to Madrid, Barcelona and the Maldives will increase to triple daily.
Because of the blockade, which was suddenly imposed last summer, Qatar Airways has plenty of spare capacity with which to allow growth into new destinations. Some of the new destinations are already served by airlines from the blockade countries, including Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline, both based in the United Arab Emirates.
Al Baker, said: “Qatar Airways is tremendously excited to announce further expansion with a significant number of new destinations to be added to our extensive global network throughout 2018 and 2019. This is a direct reflection of our commitment to connecting travellers across all corners of the world in a way that is meaningful and convenient to them. We are committed to continuing our ambitious growth strategy, in order to be able to provide our passengers with as much choice as possible and to take them anywhere in the world they wish to go.”
Referring to the blockade against Qatar, he added: “During the blockade Qatar Airways continued its expansion; it continued its march ahead. We kept our country supplied and we became prouder as a nation. The blockade made my ruler an icon of defiance. Today, we are more independent than we were nine months ago. We are very defiant, and Qatar Airways will keep on expanding and keep on raising the flag for my country all over the globe.”
Qatar Airways currently operates a modern fleet of more than 200 aircraft via its hub, Hamad International Airport (HIA). Just last month, the airline welcomed the Airbus A350-1000, for which it is the global launch customer.