Qatar Airways speeds up some route launches amid Gulf blockade

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar’s national carrier has announced plans to launch two new routes earlier than expected, as its short-haul schedules continue to take a hit following the GCC blockade.

Qatar Airways’ first service to Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, and Sohar in Oman will now take place by the end of August.

The Prague route had initially been expected to launch next year. And the airline had only recently signaled its intention to begin flights to Sohar.

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Both new routes will be operated by the airline’s A320 fleet of short-haul narrowbody aircraft.

In a statement this week, the airline’s CEO Akbar Al Baker said the introduction of the routes had been “expedited,” but did not elaborate.

Several more new route announcements will “follow shortly,” the statement added.

Qatar Airways’ decision to bring forward these routes suggests authorities are now making long-term plans to deal with the repercussions of the Gulf dispute.

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Qatar handed in its response to neighbors’ demands this week. And the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt are set to discuss them today in Cairo.

Excess capacity

Due to the crisis, Qatar Airways has been unable to fly to any airports in those four countries. But these routes had previously made up a large portion of its short-haul schedule.

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.

This means that its large fleet of A320s is now being underused.

So much so, that nine of them are currently in the UK for two weeks helping British Airways cover a cabin crew strike.

Moving up some of the airline’s planned new routes should also get the aircraft back in the skies more often, helping the carrier recoup some revenue.

The Sohar route launches on Aug. 8 and will fly three times a week (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday). Prague will launch on Aug. 21 with daily flights.


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