Qatar Airways Adding 8 New Destinations, Including Las Vegas & Rio De Janeiro

Qatar Airways has just sort of announced a bunch of new destinations, that they plan on launching in 2017-2018. I say “sort of,” since the press release mentions several new routes, though most of them don’t yet have official start dates. Qatar Airways is notorious for announcing routes and then not following through on them, so I’ll believe the routes when the inaugural flights take off from Doha.

Per the press release:

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 Airways’ eight new destinations include:

  • Canberra, Australia
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Las Vegas, United States
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Santiago, Chile
  • Medan, Indonesia
  • Tabuk, Saudi Arabia
  • Yanbu, Saudi Arabia

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The problem is that many of these new destinations aren’t actually newly announced. Six months ago Akbar Al Baker announced that Qatar Airways would start flying to Las Vegas in January 2017, and nearly a year ago he announced that they wanted to start flights to Santiago.

So I’d say this would only really be a new announcement if there were start dates for the flights (even then it’s questionable, as Qatar Airways has delayed the launch of their Auckland flight several times), but in this case he’s simply again reaffirming Qatar Airways’ intent to fly to these destinations.

The most puzzling part of all this is that Qatar Airways perpetually has a huge aircraft shortage, given that deliveries never go as planned for them. Yet somehow they keep announcing new routes that simply aren’t realistic given their current fleet. Then the routes get delayed and sometimes canceled, and the rest is history…

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I’m also sort of amazed by how many ultra longhaul flights Qatar Airways is announcing here. Las Vegas, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, and Canberra? All of those routes are over 7,000 miles. The economics of ultra longhaul flying are very challenging, and I’d be shocked if more than one of those routes ever turned a profit. This comes at a time when Etihad has completely pulled out of South America.

Perhaps the route from Doha to Santiago will operate via Rio de Janeiro. That would make more sense that operating two separate flights to South America, but even then, I have a hard time imagining they’d turn a profit on the route.

What do you make of Qatar Airways’ new route announcements?

Comments

  1. It’s physically impossible for any flight to make it nonstop to Santiago from the Middle East. So I’m sure this will be modified. Probably a tag.

    Also, Qatar really needs to work on their grammar if they want to be taken seriously. They say in the press release you quote above: “Joining the Qatar Airways’ route network”. The apostrophe is ONLY necessary if they had written “Joining Qatar Airways’ route network…”. But since they wrote the modifier THE, the possessive is already accounted for. Minor, yes, but a good PR/ Corporate comms person should be aware of that.

    Which again, makes me doubt the credibility of this announcement.

  2. Canberra getting a Qatar nonstop? Singapore had to pair Canberra with Wellington just to get the route worked out, no? This is an absurd selection of routes by Qatar.

  3. Second international flight out of Canberra. Interesting, its likely that they are getting subsidies for that route, Canberra is desperately looking for a return on investment on their new international terminal.

  4. I agree with sentiments above concerning Canberra. I don’t see how the economics could make any sense. It makes much more sense to fly to SYD or MEL and then have passengers connect on OneWorld partner Qantas.

  5. @Jason – I agree DOH-SCL is quite far. Maybe the announcement to GIG will be paired to SCL and they will offer a 5th freedom GIG-SCL flight.

  6. In respect of the two Latin American destinations, GIG and SCL, remember that QR recently purchased a non-controlling share of Latam (LA), another Oneworld member airline. So I guess the flight will be code sharing with LA, probably beyond GIG, GRU, EZE and SCL on LA metal and beyond DOH on QR.

  7. @Jeremy I agree it makes no sense but QR doesn’t really do much with Qantas because of the emirates relationship. Great news for those of us with stacks of Qantas points because Qatar availability is often much better than Qantas or emirates going east.

    I have to wonder if Auckland becomes a tag flight from CBR?

  8. Samuel, the problem is that SFO won’t connect you anywhere onwards that is useful. That said, Emirates and Etihad both fly to SFO so maybe they will, adopting a me-too strategy. There is good business between the SF Bay Area and India, for instance.

  9. Very exciting news about Canberra, if and when it happens. I know some are sceptics about Canberra but already Star Alliance SQ flights are a huge boon to the region. With One World Qatar, joining them it makes it more attractive to consumers & certainly to me. Where would you rather hub – Singapore & Doha or Sydney?

    It’s a no brainer as the flights from Canberra to Sydney are mostly very small planes, bad schedules and ridiculous prices. Not to mention the extreme time and effort in changing planes and terminals at Sydney airport, a complete zoo. Just once try getting off a beautiful A anything from a long haul flight clearing customs & immigration in Sydney, finding your luggage, waiting, getting yourself onto a bus, waiting, arriving at the domestic terminal, waiting, climbing the aircraft stairs and then being squeezed on a tiny plane with a host of other smelly, tired & sadly equally disgruntled passengers back into Canberra any morning of the week and you won’t wonder if this is an attractive option. You’ll know it is. Having said that, even with all the Aussies and Kiwis using the flights, it will need the inbound tourism market and the regional producers to really make it sing.

    It is clearly a boost to regional tourism and particularly from a freight perspective as local farmers and businesses are finding already agri freight is a better option for getting into the Asian market quickly. With no curfew (yet) produce leaves Canberra several hours after Qantas last freight flights to Singapore from Sydney

    The Canberra International Terminal has been built and ready for some years. I’m not sure they are too desperate. In my opinion (and I actually know nothing about it) its clear the operators (Snow family) are playing the long game here. Flights are just one part of it. A surrounding business park already fully occupied for the last couple of years has been built so companies & govt depts can just FIFO for meetings virtually on airport grounds. Major global big box operators like Costco (plus Costco fuel) & Ikea & others are located on the alternate periphery which has become a big retail destination in itself. This is a multi prong strategy I suspect.

    The biggest challenge for the Canberra region will be bringing along the retail and tourism sectors of the region to understand that this means a seven day a week economy with extended hours to service it. There’s plenty of fabulous tourism product not to mention food and wine but packaging it to take advantage of the inbound market will be the issue. I imagine just getting SQ to up their flights to 7 days a week would be their first goal. If those flights can come in full it will be win win for everyone but therein likes the problem. Its selling and servicing Canberra that will turn this decision into a winner.

  10. Waiting for the 5 star Skytrax flight to Vegas. Are the 5 stars given because they have cancelled the most routes?

  11. 29 new destinations in 2016 and 2017 several of them being ultra long-haul? Wow!
    How they churn a profit (if they do) is amazing given the economics of new routes.
    I wonder where they get so many passengers given Qatar depends very less on India compared to Emirates and Etihad.

  12. SCL is not physically impossible from DOH, given AKL is 56 nautical miles further from DOH than SCL. Economics is a different issue altogether.

  13. Santiago de Chile (SCL) has seen enormous growth in the last few years. Spurred on by Chile’s stable economy and the disaster that is the Argentine economy, this anouncement comes as no surprise.

  14. @Debajyoti
    Air India being the only direct choice is the worry! I wish there were other direct flights, into Mumbai at least. I highly doubt that Jet Airways partnering with Air France, Delta, KLM, Virgin and Etihad, it is going to have any direct flights into the US.
    Till then, EK, SQ or CX get the business from me.

  15. @ Jeremy – Qatar do not have any more traffic rights to fly into Sydney / Melbourne (and Perth, Brisbane). If they want to launch additional flights into Australia, they need to fly into ‘regional’ airports (Adelaide, Canberra etc). There is undoubtedly enough pax/freight from Canberra heading to Middle East/Europe to have 3/4 weekly service… whether Qatar actually follows through with this is another question though.

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