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Gulf Carriers Resume, Compete On Service to Africa
As travel demand is gradually beginning to rise, many airlines are beginning to resume flights between the U.S., Europe and Asia, largely overlooking the continent of Africa. However, Qatar Airways has officially scheduled its resumption of three weekly flights to Mogadishu, Somalia starting Sept. 6 from the Qatari capital.
The Doha, Qatar-based carrier plans to fly the Airbus A320 to the Somalian capital city, with a stop in Djibouti, where its ongoing flight operations restarted last month.
“We are delighted to resume flights to the capital of Somalia. Mogadishu is considered to be the most populous city in Somalia and with our flights, passengers will be able to enjoy Qatar Airways wide network via our home and hub, Hamad International Airport,” Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker said.
The flights to the Somalian capital will operate Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. The carrier’s latest plans for flight resumptions and expansion include nine destinations across Africa, where the airline will operate 40 weekly flights complementing its flights to Somalia.
Al Baker added, “Qatar Airways remains committed to providing global connectivity to markets across Africa through the launch of new destinations along with the rapid resumption of services suspended due to the pandemic. We look forward to welcoming our passengers back onboard to explore our growing network in Africa.”
Brewing Competition for African Markets
Although flights to the Somalian capital will be a useful contribution to Qatar’s flight network in Africa, the airline faces fierce competition from one of its major foes from the Persian Gulf, Emirates. The Emirati carrier is also in the process of revitalizing its global network, which includes a major focus on Africa.
Recently, Emirates announced the resumption of flight operations to Lusaka, Zambia beginning on Sept. 4, operating twice a week on Fridays and Sundays with a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. Like Qatar Airways, the Dubai-based carrier’s flights to the Zambian capital city will be the ninth destination in its route network on the continent.
While both carriers are vying to be the dominant carrier to the vast African continent, they face the difficult challenge of meeting the growing travel demand through their fleet. Qatar Airways has made its decision to focus primarily on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350 XWB for its long-haul operations, which will play a crucial role in supporting some of its lucrative operations in Africa.
Meanwhile, even though Emirates has decided to resume long-haul flights using the Airbus A380 while Qatar Airways has grounded its A380 fleet, the Emirati carrier has chosen to fly its other powerhouse in the current fleet, the Boeing 777-300ER on its flights to Africa, which can span a few hours to a true long-haul journey.
Additionally, according to AeroTime News, Emirates also faces the obstacle of deciding between the Boeing 777X or 787 to integrate into its long-haul fleet going forward. But in the meantime, Qatar Airways is looking to rebuild its route network through the current resources and practices of this time period, despite facing stiff competition from one of its formidable foes.
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