While other airlines cut capacity, Qatar begins flying A380s to London

Mar 25, 2020

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While many airlines have drastically reduced and completely suspended services worldwide following plunging demand amid the coronavirus crisis, Qatar Airways is increasing capacity to some European destinations in order to help return Europeans home. As part of that effort, it’s bringing its largest aircraft, the Airbus A380, in to help.

As first reported by Executive Traveller, while Qatar had previously announced a significant reduction of services to London (LHR) from its Doha (DOH) hub from six daily flights to just two, the airline is already increasing this back to between three and four flights each day during the month of April. Its A380 is currently scheduled to return on at least one daily flight to London (QR11/QR12), as the airline said it plans to add an additional 10,000 seats across its network.

The airline has also reversed the decision to reduce services to Paris (CDG) from three daily to two daily, and will also provide additional flights to (DUB) and Perth (PER) as well as upgrading existing services to Frankfurt (FRA) and Perth (PER) to be operated by its A380. Many airlines have parked their A380 aircraft as they struggle to fill the hundreds of available seats on the world’s largest passenger jet. Qatar Airways had planned to do the same, though unexpected demand has motivated the airline to already put its A380s back into service.

Qatar’s Gulf neighbours EmiratesEtihad (as well as Flydubai) have ceased all flights for a period of two weeks starting from 25 March following a temporary air service suspension imposed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) both for foreign carriers operating service to the UAE, and those based within the country.

Other popular carriers like Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific are turning away foreign passengers attempting to connect through their hubs as the governments of Singapore and Hong Kong ban all passengers from transiting through their airports, as well as barring non-residents from entering the respective countries. The policies have minimised the options for passengers desperate to return home to Europe amid rapidly increasing travel restrictions and government travel warnings. Qatar Airways is now actively promoting itself as the airline that “Will get you home” on its website.

Image from QatarAirways.com
(Image courtesy of Qatar Airways)

Qatar is recording far stronger demand for flights to Europe than those from Europe. On the flights it operated on 24 March, Qatar said that 72% of passengers were returning to their country of origin.

The restrictions imposed by rival carriers’ governments could prove to be a short-term financial windfall for Qatar Airways, which can now charge high prices for passengers urgently returning to Europe. In the past seven days, Qatar said that it had load factors of over 80% for flights to the U.K., France and Germany.

A check of fares from Bangkok (BKK) to London (LHR) next week showed the airline pricing the cheapest one-way fares in economy for more than £1,000, more than double the usual return fare. Qatar Airways plans to retain a substantial global network for the foreseeable future, despite capacity reductions, still operating to 75 destinations.

Passengers flying Qatar Airways may not enter the State of Qatar unless they are Qatari nationals for at least the next 14 days, though for now, passengers may still transit Qatar with Qatar Airways or other carriers. If you are booking a connecting flight home with Qatar Airways, try and book one with a shorter connection through Doha (DOH) as you will not be able to enter the country if you are not a Qatari national.

Qatar’s schedule, aircraft types and transit rules remain subject to change at short-notice, as this situation rapidly develops.

Featured image by Daniel Ross / The Points Guy

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