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Monday, November 29, 2021

Qatar Airways to add Boston, Atlanta and LA routes amid US subsidy spat

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Fenway Park in Boston
Fenway Park in Boston

Qatar Airways is planning to launch new flights to several American cities in the coming year, despite ongoing efforts by US carriers to limit access to their home market over what they call unfair business practices.

In an announcement today, the national carrier said it would add new daily flights from Doha to three additional cities, bringing the total number of US routes to 10.

Flights to Los Angeles will commence on Jan. 1, 2016 using a Boeing 777; service to Boston will start March 16, 2016 using the carrier’s new Airbus A350 XWB planes; and the first Qatar Airways flight to Atlanta will be July 1, 2016 on a Boeing 777.

A350
A350

Additionally, the state-owned carrier said it is adding a second daily flight to New York City using an Airbus A350 XWB.

The additional flight options are likely welcome news to Qatar residents traveling to the US. But the expansion appears to be aimed more at attracting the transit passenger market. In a statement, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said:

“As Qatar Airways continues its global expansion, we are delighted to be offering even more gateways in the United States, connecting passengers from destinations across the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, Africa and Southeast Asia.”

Falling out with US carriers

Over the past few years, the positioning of Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi as hubs for transiting passengers flying beyond those cities has drawn the ire of legacy carriers in Europe and North America, many of whom have seen their market share eroded at the hands of the big Gulf airlines.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The war of words escalated recently when American critics of Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad accused the Gulf trio of receiving government subsidies and other forms of state support, which apparently help them undercut the fares of so-called legacy carriers.

Earlier this year, American Airlines, Delta and United Airlines argued that this violates the spirit of the Open Skies Agreement that the US has signed with dozens of countries, including Qatar and the UAE. That deal allows airlines – rather than government regulators – to determine the frequency and capacity of flights.

In the case of Qatar Airways, those state subsidies are alleged to have added up to more than US$16.5 billion since 2004 and include interest-free loans that were ultimately forgiven, free land and airport fee exemptions.

For his part, Al Baker hasn’t denied that Qatar Airways received money from the government, but characterized it as injecting “equity into an airline which it owns.”

Investigation

In a sign that the US carriers’ complaint could cause turbulence for the Gulf airlines, more than 260 members of the US House of Representatives signed a letter last week calling on the Obama administration to investigate the allegations.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Reuters reports the US airlines are pushing for a temporary freeze of the Gulf carriers’ American expansion plans and that the Obama administration has said it would start reviewing the issue by the end of this month.

This has reportedly led the US airlines to accuse the Gulf carriers of taking advantage of the waiting period. Prior to today’s Qatar Airways announcement, Emirates said it was adding new flights to Orlando, Boston and Seattle.

A Qatar Airways spokesperson declined to comment on suggestions that the carrier was announcing its new routes – one of which won’t enter operation for more than a year – to get ahead of possible restrictions on new flights.

The spokesperson said the airline plans to hold a press conference Thursday at the Arabian Travel Market convention and trade show in Dubai.

Thoughts?

24 COMMENTS

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AEC
AEC
6 years ago

Oh this really is going to be fun.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago

QA should ban alcohol

Anon
Anon
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Troll…nice try!

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Anon

Troll امك

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

But that is how they make their money. QDC is the only profitable part of Qatar Airways

johnny wang
johnny wang
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Exactly. Perhaps they should shut down the distribution joint first.

AEC
AEC
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

And seat belts.

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Deleting for irrelevance, and subsequent thread.

Mr. Burns
Mr. Burns
6 years ago

They can announce all they want.

sicti
sicti
6 years ago

Getting my popcorn…

Yousef
Yousef
6 years ago

YUCK….more “masking” wearing women at Disney Land !!..so long as they stay out of SF all will be good.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Yousef

Am sure your everyday SFican is happy to have yousef around

Joe
Joe
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

YES…they are very happy to have me since I LEFT QATAR and its Batwomen masking wearing people !!
SF is an OPEN and loving area

qatari
qatari
6 years ago
Reply to  Joe

for rainbow ppl.it is. not a lovely city though .

Ms. Hala
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

No we are not! hehehe

Ms. Hala
6 years ago
Reply to  Yousef

I’m a “masked” woman from San Francisco and your comment is absurd.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

Need more routes to India.

johnny wang
johnny wang
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Perhaps you are aware that a lot of their money comes from that sector and that’s one place which keeps QA going around

ex_pat
ex_pat
6 years ago
Reply to  johnny wang

Indian sectors? They only make money if people are getting off in Doha. India to the US is what the new services are aimed at, and this is already a hugely competed market. Adding extra capacity won’t increase prices (unless you’re flying from Doha). Great news for travellers in places like India and the US – they’re going to be getting decent product at a low price, if the US regulatory authorities let this fly.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

23 a day is enough

Andrew
Andrew
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Where do you get 23 flights to India per day from?

They fly once daily to 9 different Indian airports, plus twice daily to Delhi and 11 times a week to Kochi.

That’s a total of 88 flights into Indian destinations per week, or an average of 12.5 flights per day.

Akber Al Baker is desperate to increase capacity to and from India:

Our strategy is to expand our footprint in the country as well as increase frequency on existing routes to offer passengers greater choice. Qatar Airways will continue its aggressive expansion. In line with our commitment to offer our passengers exceptional travel experience, we introduced the Dreamliner (planes) on two of our important Delhi and Bengaluru routes. Also, there was a recent significant increase in the capacity of flights from Doha to Kochi after the upgrade from the narrow-body Airbus 321 to the wide-body Airbus 330. Moving forward, we plan to seek more capacity in India, increase frequency on existing routes and recruit more people from India.

However it is Indian domestic politics that will continue to prevent any expansion into the Indian aviation market for Qatar Airways for the foreseeable future:

Indian carriers are, however, not very enthusiastic about increasing seat entitlements. Gulf carriers depend heavily on the Indian market to enlist passengers to feed routes to Europe and North America. “In the case of Qatar, our carriers do not want any increase. We have told them that the requests from Qatar could be looked into in case they put in a request but our carriers do not want any increase,” the official said.

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2015-04-01/news/60720473_1_indian-carriers-third-largest-natural-gas-reserves-qatar-and-india

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Each one needs a business class, on flights to India you have to fly business class, no other choice.

Chipper fluffypants
Chipper fluffypants
6 years ago

Why Boston when we already have Philly, Detroit, Chicago and NY? These hubs are way too close. I think Minneapolis or St. Louis would have been a better destination. Spread them out a bit. Atlanta is a good choice though.

Nathan
Nathan
6 years ago

Because Boston is a major, tech, education, finanical and pharma hub. That’s why.

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