In a potential blow to Qatar passengers’ wallets, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has announced plans to stop flying directly from Amsterdam to Doha next year.
The carrier said it will cease all service to the country on March 26, 2017 because it “has proven unprofitable since Qatar Airlines launched direct service to Schiphol in June 2015.”
In a statement, KLM added that the decision brings an end to the airline’s 33-year presence in Qatar.
Passengers with reservations for flights after March 26 will be rebooked on “the most appropriate alternative flight.”
Qatar Airways launched a direct Doha-Amsterdam flight about a year and a half ago, in June 2015.
Competition quickly heated up with KLM, which had been the only operator to fly directly between Amsterdam and Doha since June 2012.
Though Qatar Airways’ timings for its flights were more convenient (during the daytime instead of overnight), they initially came at a premium price.
However, the carrier’s prices have now become almost comparable with KLM on this route.
For example, a Qatar Airways economy ticket for a trip from Doha to Amsterdam on Dec. 2 ranges from QR1,335 to QR3,925, according to its website.
Two years ago, that flight used to be nearly QR5,000 a person.
On KLM, tickets for the same day cost QR2,585 each.
For now, it remains unclear if Qatar Airways’ rates will go back up once KLM is out of the picture.
Other Gulf cities
The move means that KLM will now stop in Kuwait City instead of directly from Amsterdam to Doha before going on to Manama, Bahrain.
Additionally, the number of indirect flights to Bahrain will be extended from five to six times a week.
Meanwhile, Dammam in Saudi Arabia will now be linked to Muscat in Oman, instead of Kuwait.
In a statement, KLM president Pieters Elbers said:
“With changes in the flight schedule, we offer customers improved direct connections to the Gulf states. In some cases the travel time is also shorter.”
He added, “The capacity that disappears will be deployed to new destinations.”
Will this route change affect you? Thoughts?