Browsing 'aviation' News

Oliver Holzbauer / Flickr

A Lufthansa Boeing 747

Germany’s national airline Lufthansa has announced plans to cease flying to Doha next month for financial reasons.

The last Lufthansa flight from Doha to Frankfurt will leave on Oct. 27.

The move will leave Qatar residents with even fewer options when flying to long-haul destinations in the US and South America, as well as connecting to other European countries.

Hamad International Airport

Sanjiban Ghosh/Flickr

Hamad International Airport

In a statement to Doha News, Lufthansa said that the route was not making enough money.

“Despite substantial sales efforts, this route was found to be commercially not viable,” the airline said.

However, the airline will retain its stopover in Kuwait, a spokesperson said.

“Only one year back, Lufthansa had to again connect its operation from Doha to Frankfurt via Kuwait, due to the unsatisfactory commercial development of the route over the past few years.”

The airline added that passengers with existing bookings on flights after Oct. 27 will be contacted directly and offered re-booking or refunds.

The cancelation follows Dutch airline KLM’s decision last November to also cease flying to Qatar.

At the time, the airline said that its Amsterdam-Doha route had “proven unprofitable” due to competition from Qatar Airways.

Impact on passengers

Fewer flying options could impact residents’ wallets.

Up until now, Lufthansa’s daily route to Frankfurt has offered a generally cheaper way to fly to the Americas and Europe.

Boeing

A Qatar AIrways Boeing 777

After October, Qatar Airways will have very little competition on flights to these destinations.

Additionally, British Airways is set to become the only European airline to fly into Hamad International.

Meanwhile, the ongoing blockade of Qatar and the suspension of flights by Etihad, Emirates and Gulf Air means that passengers can no longer easily connect through Abu Dhabi, Dubai or Bahrain to visit the US or Europe.

A difficult market

However, passengers may not want to get too concerned about higher ticket prices just yet.

Although Lufthansa’s decision may give Qatar Airways some advantage on European routes, these are still troubling times for the national carrier.

Sanjiban Ghosh/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Earlier this year, it was hit by an economic slowdown brought about by lower oil prices, as well as (now-removed) restrictions on electronic devices for US routes.

And over the summer, the ongoing blockade forced Qatar Airways to cease flying to 18 destinations, losing a fifth of its seating capacity in the process.

According to the Financial Times, this equates to a 1 percent decrease in seat demand this year. This is a significant change from the constant rise in demand the airline has experienced up until now.

Meanwhile, the airline’s rivals, Etihad and Emirates, have been even harder hit for various reasons.

Clément Alloing/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Emirates reported a 82 percent drop in profits for the last fiscal year, its first decrease in five years.

And Etihad reported a loss of $1.9bn for last year, partly a result of its decision to invest in a number of smaller, struggling airlines.

According to industry analysts, all three of the big Gulf carriers will have to take a financial hit and drop their prices to attract travelers.

John Grant of OAG, an aviation data consultancy, told the Financial Times that connecting traffic, which is central to their business models, is “always vulnerable to price.”
“Such low local market demand, particularly for Qatar and Etihad, does highlight a real risk in their traffic and business structure,” he added.

Thoughts?

Qatar Airways/Flickr

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker

The chief of Qatar Airways will soon hold a key leadership position at one of the world’s largest airline trade bodies.

CEO Akbar Al Baker was elected to head the board of governors of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) this week.

He will assume the position for a year starting in June 2018.

Boeing

Qatar Airways 737 Max

In a statement, Al Baker thanked the board for their confidence in him.

In a nod to the ongoing Gulf dispute, he also pledged to uphold “freedom of flight for all” during his term:

“For more than two decades I have lived and breathed aviation, and I look forward to working alongside the Board of Governors to champion passenger rights and improve security standards across the industry, as well as continuing to promote the rights of freedom of flight for all.”

Al Baker will preside over fellow board members with whom he has had a contentious relationship, including the CEOs of American Airlines and EgyptAir, as well as the director general of Saudi Arabian Airlines.

Gulf dispute

The IATA represents the interests of 275 airlines around the world that account for 83 percent of global air traffic.

It also carries out security audits of airlines, offers consulting and training and pushes for greater safety in global aviation.

Cy Kuckenbaker/ Petapixel

Illustration for illustrative purposes only.

The group does not usually get involved in political disputes. But it recently spoke out when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt halted all flights to and from Qatar.

“Of course we accept that countries have the right to close their borders,” IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac said in June. “But connectivity with Qatar must be restored as quickly as possible.”

The UN’s civil aviation body also urged Gulf states to honor their air agreements with Qatar.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Chantelle D'mello

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

But so far, this has only resulted in the opening of a few emergency corridors to Qatar Airways – and a stern warning to avoid breaching sovereign airspace.

This means the airline continues to have to take more circuitous routes to avoid their neighbors’ airspace, resulting in longer flying times and the burning of more fuel.

Thoughts?

Qatar Airways/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The decision by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to suspend all flights to Doha is causing considerable disruption and frustration for Qatar travelers.

With schools coming to a close and Eid Al Fitr around the corner, the busy summer travel season draws near. And many expats and nationals have already seen their flights canceled.

Sanjiban Ghosh/Flickr

Hamad International Airport

This is because Emirates, Etihad, Gulf Air, Egyptair, Air Arabia, Saudia and Fly Dubai have ceased operations to and from Hamad International Airport for now.

Additionally, Qatar Airways has been forced to cancel flights to these countries.

So residents hoping to fly with the national carrier to these places will also need to make other plans.

How to get a refund

All of the airlines that have suspended flights are offering passengers a refund or the opportunity to re-route.

Clément Alloing/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

While some customers are choosing to wait and see whether the diplomatic situation eases in the coming days, many have decided to cash in their tickets.

Some said they are opting to book with Qatar Airways instead, as direct flights out of Doha to non-boycott destinations are still operating normally.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.If you want to opt for a refund, here are the contact details you need to get your money back:

Etihad: Customers are being asked to call +971 2599 0000, or visit‎ etihad.com to request a refund.

Emirates: Customers who booked their tickets through a travel agency should contact their agents. Customers who booked with Emirates directly can process refunds for their tickets at www.emirates.com/refund or contact their local Emirates office.

Fly Dubai: Passengers who have purchased tickets for travel between Dubai and Doha are advised to call +971 600 54 44 45, the flydubai travel shop in Doha on +974 4 4227350/51 or their travel agent. Passengers can also send a private message on Facebook to arrange a refund for any unused tickets.

jbarcena

Photo for illustrative purposes only

Air Arabia: Customers can call Air Arabia’s call center on +971 6 5580000 or visit www.airarabia.com.

Gulf Air: Passengers should contact the Gulf Air Worldwide Contact Centre on +973 17373737 or visit the airline’s website gulfair.com for further information.

The airline says it’s offering “alternative options, including full refunds on unused tickets and free re-booking to the nearest alternate Gulf Air destinations.” However, we have heard that some passengers are being charged a US$50 cancellation fee.

Saudia: Passengers should call 44440121. The airline says that it has waived all ticket restrictions (Rebooking / Rerouting / Refund and No-show ) for affected passengers holding confirmed tickets via Doha.

Egyptair: Customers who booked through a travel agency should contact their agents. Customers who booked with the airline directly can process refunds for their tickets by contacting the Doha office (+974 44356020 / 44356040.)

Finally, those booked with Qatar Airways to any of the affected countries can also get a refund. Passengers can call 4022 0072 or contact their nearest Qatar Airways office for more info.

Have your travel plans been affected by the Gulf dispute? Were you able to get a refund for your tickets? Let us know at [email protected]