Qatar Airways is to reinstate a direct link between London Gatwick and Doha from Tuesday 22 May 2018, with twice daily flights.
Flights will be operated by Qatar Airways’ Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft in a two class, business and economy, configuration. The flight times vary by today, but typically depart London Gatwick at around 09:00 and 15:00 each day. A third daily flight will also operate on some days in the peak summer months.
British Airways and Qatar Airways have today announced the formation of a joint-venture on the airlines’ respective flights to UK, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia via their respective hubs in Doha and London Heathrow.
The joint-venture will take effect from 30 October 2016.
The two airlines will codeshare on all their respective flights between the UK and Doha. This will include Qatar Airways operated flights from both London Heathrow and UK regional airports (Birmingham, Edinburgh and Manchester).
Qatar Airways will codeshare on selected British Airways operated flights from London Heathrow to the UK and mainland Europe.
British Airways will codeshare on selected Qatar Airways routes from Doha to the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
These routes include Colombo, Ho Chi Minh City, Multan, Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, Denpasar Bali, Addis Ababa, Entebbe, Dar es Salaam, Basra, Baghdad, Khartoum, Sulaimaniyah, Kilimanjaro, Al Najaf, Dhaka, and Djibouti.
There appear to be some exclusions.
For example, Qatar Airways flights to Australia (which BA serves with its own aircraft and codeshares with Qantas Airways and Cathay Pactific) are not mentioned. Nor are BA flights to North America included, where the growth of Middle Eastern airlines has been politically contentious.
Qatar Airways will not codeshare on British Airways routes from London Heathrow to the UK and mainland Europe which it serves directly from Doha.
Similarly, British Airways will not codeshare on Qatar Airways routes from Doha which it serves directly from London Heathrow.
The two airlines will also seek to co-ordinate schedules and fare pricing.
BA and Qatar have been working more closely in recent years. However, codesharing has been limited to a small number of routes and has not been helped by the fact that, until the end of October, BA flies to Doha via Bahrain and its flights were not well timed for onward connections. BA will fly to Doha non-stop from 30 October 2016.
For BA, this deal enlarges its route network to cover a number of destinations it does not serve from London Heathrow such as routes it has withdrawn from in Pakistan and Africa. Qatar Airways gains access to BA’s distribution network and frequent flyer base in the UK to help it compete more effectively against Etihad Airways and Emirates.
Qatar Airways now owns 20% of BA’s parent company International Airlines Group. Qatar Airways has also announced a codeshare arrangement with fellow IAG member airline Vueling.
Just a couple of weeks after Qatar Airways announced that it is to fly from Doha to Sydney the airline continues its expansion in the Australia market, the with the launch of a daily flight from Doha to Adelaide from Monday 2 May 2016.
This is Qatar Airways’ fourth destination in Australia after (as mentioned above) Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.
Qatar will fly to Adelaide using its latest Airbus A350 aircraft, operating in a two class (business and economy) configuration.
The aircraft comprises 36 seats in business class in a 1-2-1 configuration, featuring 80″ fully-flat beds and 17″ HD in-flight entertainment screens, and 247 seats in economy, each 18-inches wide in a 3-3-3 configuration, with up to a 32″ pitch. Each individual economy seat features a 10.6″ in-flight entertainment screen. Wi-Fi is also available in all classes.
Flight QR 914 Depart Doha 20:55 – Arrive Adelaide 16:20
Flight QR 915 Depart Adelaide 21:30 – Arrive Doha 04:50
As Qatar Airways is a member of the Oneworld alliance, members of other Oneworld alliance frequent flyer programmes will be able to earn and redeem frequent flyer miles on this route.
If there’s one route from London where travellers have an unrivalled choice of routes and airlines, it has to be London – Sydney.
Sydney is a destination that cannot be reached non-stop from London requiring a stop-over en route (hence the name the “The Kangaroo Route”).
Not long ago, it was typically a choice of a stop-over in Singapore or Bangkok. Now there is not only a vast choice of stop-overs in Asia, but also the Middle East with Emirates in particular soaking up significant volumes of traffic between Europe and Australia.
Qatar Airways is one of the Middle Eastern airlines that, to date, has not served Sydney. However, a relaxation of the bilateral treaty that governs flights between Qatar and Australia has allowed Qatar Airways to launch a new route from Doha to Sydney from Tuesday 1 March 2016.
Flights will be operated with a two class Boeing 777 aircraft and are well timed for connections to and from London Heathrow. The early evening arrival in Sydney will be welcome to those who prefer to avoid an early morning arrival.
The news has been welcomed enthusiastically by IAG CEO Willie Walsh, citing the fact that Qatar Airways has recently joined the Oneworld alliance and British Airways has recently started co-operating with BA on areas such as codesharing on Qatar routes from Doha to Asia.
Willie Walsh also cites the opportunity for further commercial co-operation between Qatar Airways and IAG mber airlines.
There is certainly scope for greater collaboration. For example, BA still serves Doha via a stop in Bahrain and the two airlines could explore a revenue sharing joint-venture on routes to and beyond Doha, as BA has with other Oneworld alliance partners such as American Airlines and Japan Airlines.
At the moment there are no changes to the board structure of IAG. Should Qatar Airways wish to increase its stake in IAG, under EU ownership rules, it would be capped at 49%.
Qatar Airways is not the first Middle Eastern airline to invest in European aviation as Etihad Airways has taken equity stakes in a portfolio of airlines such as Air Berlin, Aer Lingus, Alitalia and Air Serbia. Etihad also has a codeshare relationship with Air France KLM. Emirates has so far eschewed taking equity stakes in other airlines.
Finally, it is also noteworthy that Qatar Airways has invested in IAG at a time when it’s share price is at an all time high, above 550p. IAG’s share price has previously hit lows of around 110p.
We have to admit to being a little surprised by Qatar Airways’ plans to launch an all business class flight from London Heathrow to Doha, from 15 May 2014. This will complement the airline’s five daily services between the two cities.
That one of the “Middle East Three” carriers is adding capacity to London Heathrow is not unexpected. It’s one of the largest business and premium travel markets in the world and the Middle East carriers have generally been able to pursue an unfettered expansion in the UK, unlike, say, Germany.
Nor it is unusual for an airline to launch a scheduled business class only service. BA has its own all business service from London City to New York JFK, for example.
However, given how sought after Heathrow slot pairs are for relatively small new entrants, it is little unusual to see a valuable slot pair used for a 40 seat all business class service.
We can only deduce that, aircraft availability issues aside, Qatar wishes to pursue high margin business travellers over the volume that a larger aircraft could provide.
Flight QR16 will depart London Heathrow at 9.55pm and arrives into Doha at 6.40am (well suited for business travellers flying only to Doha).
Flight QR15 will depart Doha at 2.50pm and arrives into London Heathrow at 8.25pm (not quite so well suited for point to point business travellers).
This service will no doubt be attractive to those able to take advantage of it. For completeness, it’s also worth adding that as Qatar Airways is a member of the Oneworld alliance, members of Oneworld frequent flyer programmes will be able to earn and redeem their respective frequent flyer miles on this flight.
Qatar Airways is to join the Oneworld alliance on Wednesday 30 October 2013, just over one year after announcing its original intention to join the alliance.
This means that from this date, members of fellow Oneworld alliance members frequent flyer programmes will be entitled to reciprocal frequent flyer benefits (such as mileage earning and airport lounge access) when flying on Qatar Airways.