Qatar Airways plans to expand its flight schedule across U.S. airports and has its sights set on reaching 250 destinations worldwide, CEO Akbar Al Baker told reporters at a news conference in Seattle earlier this month.
Already in 2023, Qatar’s national airline has added three new flight destinations (Trabzon, Turkey; Lyon, France, and Toulouse, France) and has resumed service to seven more, after halting operations during the COVID slowdown (Beijing, China; Davao, Philippines; Nice, France; Tokyo Haneda, Japan; Casablanca and Marrakesh, Morocco; and Birmingham, England).
By the end of 2023, Qatar will add service to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and Ras Al Kaimah, United Arab Emirates. By next summer, six more destinations are planned: Medan, Indonesia; Chittagong, Bangladesh; Osaka, Japan; Juba, South Sudan; Kinshasa, Congo; and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The additions will bring the airline’s reach to 185 airports worldwide.
Due to aircraft manufacturing delays (many of which are the result of COVID-era supply chain backlogs, according to Al Baker), some of Qatar Airways’ expansion plans to a total of 250 global gateways will have to wait until 2025 or 2026 when Boeing and Airbus can deliver additional aircraft.
Qatar Airways is known for its best-in-class business seats and service, and Al Baker says he is confident global passenger demand will support the airline’s growth. “We’re within seven hours [of flight time] to 65 percent of the world’s population,” from Qatar’s headquarters of Hamad Airport in Doha, says Al Baker. Among the airline’s strategic expansion targets are markets in India and Africa, which Al Baker says are currently “poorly serviced, for both quantity and quality” when it comes to air travel. While Qatar Airways sees huge opportunities for these markets, Al Baker cautions that “infrastructure constraints,” including the need for more and better airports and improved management of airspace and runway capacity, could slow the carrier’s ambitions in the two regions.
“There’s so much business to go around,” for new markets, says Al Baker. “But who will be successful is who will make the most efficient travel hubs and quickest connections.”
Stateside, Qatar Airways plans to double departures to twice daily from Seattle and Miami, with the timing of the increased service based on aircraft availability, according to Al Baker. Beginning October 29, the carrier will also expand service from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to three flights a day from its current twice daily schedule.