Qatar Airways continues its growth and will add four new destinations in ASEAN until year end.
For Qatar Airways, 2017 will remain as the year of the blockade as in July, Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Bahrain and then Egypt decided to ban the airline from its skies, not even allowing the carrier to fly over their respective air space. “However, the blockade by those countries had the contrary effect to their expectation: it made us even more determined to keep our marsh ahead and made us even prouder as a nation,” highlighted Qatar Airways President Akbar Al Baker during its traditional media briefing during ITB Berlin last week.
“We however felt the burden of the blockade on our financial performance. We had to upgrade some of our regional services to wide-body aircraft to maximize the utilisation of our fleet. This resulted in lower load factors on some routes while operating costs increased as we had to fly longer routes following the ban over the airspace of Saudi Arabia, Bahrein and the UAE,” told Akbar Al Baker.
“We will certainly show a large loss this year but our financial strength remains intact. And at the right time, we will claim to recover the incurred losses from the blockade countries”, said Akbar Al Baker.
The closure of 19 destinations in the blockade countries translated however to a redeployment of aircraft on other routes, especially with the launching of new services. The ASEAN region benefited particularly from Qatar Airways expansion.
Between July 2017 and February 2018, five ASEAN destinations have been added to Qatar Airways’ network. In Thailand, Qatar Airways inaugurated new routes to Krabi, Chiang Mai and U-Tapao-Pattaya. In the Philippines, the Qatari national carrier launched new services to Clark International Airport, north of Manila. And in early February, Qatar Airways launched a non-stop service to Penang.
But more is due to follow this year. New routes will be opened to Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. In Malaysia, the carrier will fly to Langkawi. In the Philippines, Cebu and Davao will join the airline’s network while in Vietnam, Danang will become Qatar Airways third destination in the country. “We will also upgrade services to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City with double daily flights”, told Mr. Al Baker.
According to Qatar Airways President, its new affiliate Air Italy (previously Meridana) is likely to launch this year flights between Milan and Bangkok.
Akbar Al Baker also announced that Qatar Airways state-of-the-art business class product ‘Q Suite’ will equip all of its fleet by the end of next year while 2019 will see the launching of a brand new economy class, “which will also create a revolution in the industry”, promised the airline’s president.