The signing of an air services agreement between Qatar’s Emir and the president of Mexico has cleared the way for direct passenger flights between the two countries, following an official visit between the heads of state in Mexico City this week.
The Emir was in Mexico as part of a three-nation tour of Latin America, which began on Sunday in Cuba and ends in Venezuela today.
Qatar Airways and Mexico’s largest airline Aeromexico have not issued any statements following the announcement.
So far, no Gulf country flies directly to Mexico, though the Mexican Ambassador to the UAE Francisco Alonso reportedly said in September that a route on Emirates would be announced “soon.”
According to aviation website Skift, few aircraft could handle a flight as long as one from Dubai to Mexico City, though it added the Boeing 777X could fit the bill. Emirates is due to be one of the first customers for the jets in 2020, after placing an order for 150 of the aircraft in 2013, it said.
Meanwhile, Qatar Airways announced in June at the Paris airshow that it had purchased 10 Boeing 777-8Xs and four 777 Freighters, an order valued at US$4.8 billion based on the current list prices for the planes.
The purchase of the 350-seat 777-8X planes are in addition to the order Qatar Airways previously placed for 50 of the slightly larger 400-seat 777-9X model.
The line of long-haul aircraft is currently under development, with the first passenger planes expected to be delivered in 2020.
Qatar Airways already flies freight to Mexico, although the route is not direct.
Qatar is proving to be an increasingly attractive destination for other airlines as well. Turkish Airlines has said it is looking to introduce wide-bodied aircraft such as the Airbus A330 on its Istanbul to Doha route as it aims to add capacity.
Between January and September this year, the number of passengers carried by the airline increased by 4.6 percent and business class passengers rose by nearly 25 percent, Travel Daily ME reported.
The aviation agreement was one of a number of pacts signed between Qatar and Mexico during the Emir’s official visit this week.
The two heads of state also signed a memorandum of understanding between Qatar Central Bank and the Bank of Mexico, and another between Qatar Chamber of Commerce and the Mexican Business Council to promote trade and economic cooperation.
Bilateral relations between Mexico and Qatar began in June 1975, but the mission in Doha only formally opened last month.
Earlier in the week in Cuba, the Emir signed an agreement with President Raul Castro allowing Qatar to invest $2 billion over five years in the state.
Other agreements made included the reciprocal abolition of visas for diplomatic staff and an unspecified MoU on “air services,” QNA said.
In defense of gas
During the last leg of the Latin American tour, the Emir landed in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas yesterday, where he was welcomed by vice-president Jorge Arreaza Monserra and other dignitaries.
Sheikh Tamim and President Nicolas Maduro Moros signed a number of agreements including a visa exemption for diplomatic and special passport holders, and an “exchange of expertise” between the ministries of justice in the two countries, as well as an undefined agreement “in the field of air services.”
In a joint statement, Maduro said Qatar and Venezuela are partners in the defense of oil over the past years and are now partners in the defense of gas, QNA reported.
The trip follows a visit from the Venezuelan president to Doha in January this year, where Qatar reportedly agreed to boost food imports from Venezuela and lend the state billions of dollars to help it cope with the fallout of plummeting oil prices.