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EX-YU Destinations on Qatar Airways’ Radar for 2024 Expansion

Qatar Airways has said it has identified ten new destinations it plans to launch next year, giving hope to several airports in the former Yugoslavia which have been courting the Gulf carrier for a number of years. The Qatari airline introduced seven new routes in 2023 and restored eleven destinations, which were maintained prior to the pandemic. Qatar Airways recently settled its dispute with Airbus, which has seen the airline return to service over twenty grounded A350 jets, revive its cancelled A321neo order, as well as take delivery of Boeing 737 MAX jets. “We feel that the Balkans are underserved, and we would like to provide countries in the Balkans with a five-star product they deserve. That is why we are focusing on such markets with high opportunities, which benefits both sides, the people in these countries and Qatar Airways as well. We will continue to seek opportunities in this region”, the airline noted.

Qatar Airways discontinued flights between Doha and Skopje at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020 and is yet to return. The airline told EX-YU Aviation News it would resume operations to the Macedonian capital “once it is commercially viable”. Both the Macedonian government and airport operator TAV have been making attempts for Qatar Airways to return. The Macedonian Minister for Transport and Communications, Blagoj Bočvarski, has held talks with the Qatari Ambassador to the country, where he emphasised the need for Qatar Airways to restore services between Doha and Skopje. “It is especially important for us to renew the flights between Skopje and Doha, in order to maintain business relations between the two countries”, Mr Bočvarski said. Airport operator TAV Macedonia noted, “Almost all destinations maintained from Macedonia’s two airports prior to the Covid-19 crisis are now back, except for Doha and Dubai from Skopje Airport. TAV Macedonia is working to retrieve these two destinations, as they offered solid transfer connections for the Macedonian diaspora in Australia and New Zealand, as well as connections for travellers going to Japan, China, India and exotic destinations in the East”. Qatar Airways handled 29.856 travellers on its Skopje route in 2019. The majority of the passengers were transfers. They primarily originated or were destined for the Australian market – 33%, followed by India 7%, Thailand 5% and Singapore 4%.

Qatar Airways was to introduce seasonal summer flights between Doha and Dubrovnik on April 20, 2020. The service, which was to be maintained between three and five times per week until late October with the A320 jet, was cancelled following the Covid-19 outbreak. As the Australian and southeast Asian market have seen strong growth since travel restrictions were liftes, which were the main source markets for the Dubrovnik service, Qatar Airways could reconsider plans to include the coastal city in its network. Qatar Airways entered the Croatian market in 2012 and was one of the busiest airlines in Zagreb prior to the pandemic, handling over 130.000 passengers in the city in 2019.

Qatar Airways has expressed interest in serving Ljubljana in the past. Prior to the pandemic, the airline’s former CEO of 27 years, Akbar Al Baker, said, “Ljubljana is being looked at. We have many destinations we plan to operate with our narrowbodies”. Earlier this year, the airline began codesharing on Air Serbia’s flights between Belgrade and the Slovenian capital. Last year, a large Qatari delegation, headed by Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, visited Slovenia, during which potential flights were discussed. “As for the air connectivity between Ljubljana and Doha, Qatar Airways is very interested in the European market, but opening a new route requires time to study the market. Once this is completed, flights will be launched. Slovenia is a tourism-oriented country that relies on this sector as a main resource in the economy and has attractive facilities. Tourism between the two countries could see a leap in the coming period”, the Qatari delegation said.

Qatar Airways will take part in the upcoming Dubai Air Show next week. EX-YU Aviation News will be present at the event and plans to bring you more on what Gulf carriers have in store for the region.

Source : Exyuaviation