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A Qatar A350-1000 in Doha (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Fabian Behr)

Qatar Airways Ramps Up Flights to Holiday Resorts

The Maldives is one of the latest popular summer holiday destinations to which Qatar Airways has already resumed flights, with others on the list including Athens; Tunis, Tunisia and Zanzibar and Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.

The airline’s first daily flight, operated with an Airbus A350 aircraft landed, at Velana International Airport in the Maldives on June 15, becoming the first international airline to resume flights to the Maldives. The Maldives welcomed the 104 passengers and crew with water cannons.

“The stronger our safety measures, the better chance we have of being hailed as a safe destination,” Maldivian Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail said as he welcomed the first international travelers to the country in more than three months.

As of July 15, this island nation in the Indian Ocean had reopened to international tourism. With the reopening, the world’s major airline companies announced their flight schedules to the island. Emirates Airline — the regional rival of Qatar Airways — and Etihad Airways — another the United Arab Emirates-based airline — will resume flights from Dubai and Abu Dubai to the Maldives on July 16. Turkish Airlines will also start flight operations to the island from July 17. SriLankan Airlines will add the tropical island to its schedule the same day as the two Emirati carriers.

Singapore Airlines, Singapore’s SilkAir, Indian carrier IndiGo, Hong Kong Airlines and Bahrain’s Gulf Air also announced they would resume flights to the Maldives in August. Switzerland-based Edelweiss will operate direct flights from Zurich to the Maldives from late September.

The island country banned international flights in late March to curb the spread of the pandemic.

Qatar Airways Expands its Network

Qatar Airways will also restart flights to Antalya and Bodrum, popular summer tourism hotspots in Turkey. With the resumption of flights to Antalya, Bodrum, the Maldives, Zanzibar and Kilimanjaro, the airline has strengthened its presence in some of the largest tourism markets in East Asia, Africa and the Indian Ocean. The airline has also increased the number of flights to Athens, the transit city for the Greek Islands, from seven to eleven weekly flights.

Additionally, Qatar-based airline will resume flights in July to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Helsinki, Finland and Djibouti, Djibouti. The airline will add Istanbul’s Sabiha Gökcen International Airport to its flight schedule in July. The Gulf carrier previously announced that as of June 13, it would reinstate flights to the newly opened Istanbul International Airport with Boeing 777 aircraft every day of the week.

The airline’s network will expand to more than 450 weekly flights to over 70 destinations by the end of July. Earlier in July, Qatar Airways relaunched regular flights to Boston, Los Angeles and Washington D.C., joining the airline’s existing Chicago and Dallas flights in the U.S. As of July 16, the carrier operates 39 weekly direct flights to six cities in the U.S. While major Gulf carriers including Emirates and Etihad suspended their flight operations to the U.S due to the pandemic, Qatar Airways maintained its flights to Chicago and Dallas-Fort Worth throughout the crisis, continuing to serve two hubs of alliance partner American Airlines.

“With the airline’s network never falling below 30 destinations throughout this crisis, Qatar Airways continues to lead the recovery of international air travel”, said the airline in a press statement.

Qatar Airways has not suspended flight operations since the novel coronavirus pandemic outbreak, becoming one of the few airlines in the region to have continued the flights despite the aviation crisis. The airline currently operates its 30 Boeing 787 Dreamliner and 49 Airbus A350 aircraft.

The carrier decided to ground its full fleet of Airbus A380s due to the unprecedented impact of the respiratory disease pandemic on travel demand. It is not commercially or environmentally justifiable to operate such a large aircraft in the current market, according to the airline.

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