Qatar Airways is still on an aggressive expansion course and just announce that eight new long haul destinations will be added to their schedule for 2017 and early 2018.
It’s no secret that these ME3 carriers pretty exclusively fill their planes with connection traffic and not point to point customers. Compared to the amount of passengers transiting in the Middle East hubs Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha those originating there are the vast minority.
What is Qatar actually doing to enhance their network and attract additional traffic?
You can access their media release here where they outline the time frame.
Qatar Airways, the award-winning and fastest growing airline in the world, today announced eight more destinations for 2017-18, in addition to seven previously announced new cities for a total of 15 new gateways.
Joining the Qatar Airways’ route network, which spans more than 150 destinations on six continents around the world, are: Canberra, the airline’s fifth destination in Australia; Dublin, Ireland; Las Vegas, the airline’s 11th destination in the United States; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Santiago, Chile; Medan, Kualanamu International Airport, the airline’s third destination in Indonesia; and Tabuk and Yanbu, the 9th and 10th destinations in Saudi Arabia.
These newly-announced destinations join the already-announced list of new destinations to start in 2017: Auckland, New Zealand will start 5 February 2017, and will be the world’s longest commercial flight; Sarajevo, Bosnia; Skopje, Macedonia; Libreville, Gabon; Nice, France; Chiang Mai, the airline’s fourth destination in Thailand; and Douala, Cameroon.
Qatar has been growing exponentially in recent year and just as Emirates and Etihad pursue an aggressive course knowing that their only way of gaining market share is to siphon off passengers from the legacy carriers that are operating point to point from their home airports.
It’s good that the ME3 carriers are putting pressure on the markets and carriers that so far enjoyed pretty much free reign that drove up the prices. As profit margins go down it becomes increasingly difficult though to keep up their traditional business model and high wages for employees, especially those on very old contracts. Airlines all over such as Lufthansa are now restructuring their companies, adding low cost subsidiaries and try to cut back on wages. Of course that doesn’t sit well with the employees which leads to these excessive strikes.
Product wise the ME3 also invest massively in modern, comfortable terminals and aircraft. This growth comes at a price as well though. I can’t count how often I have been bused around Dubai or Doha Airport because there were simply no gate positions available due to the airport becoming too small and not being able to keep up with the pace the home carrier is growing. And I can’t stand buses!