As people hurry home, Qatar boosts flights and brings back the A380

Qatar Airways' Doha hub remains open for passengers in transit, as the airline boosts flights to get people home.

By David Flynn , March 26 2020
As people hurry home, Qatar boosts flights and brings back the A380

While many international airlines are cutting back their flights, and more travellers find themselves stranded by axed routes, closed borders and transit bans, Qatar Airways is both increasing flights and ramping up the number of Airbus A380s across several key routes.

The Oneworld member is clearly seeing, and seizing, an opportunity.

Its near-neighbour and bête noir, Emirates, is now grounded for at least two weeks – along with Etihad Airways – due to a UAE-wide ban on all passenger flights into and out of the country.

Cities which were once thriving hubs for connecting passengers – Singapore and Hong Kong – this week banned travellers in transit.

With every day, there seems to be fewer ways for people to get home – at a time when home is where almost everyone wants to be – and it’s become the new mission of Qatar Airways, with over 70 destinations linked via its hub at Doha's Hamad International Airport, which remains open to passengers in transit.

Qatar Airways is still flying to 70 cities worldwide, with around 150 flights per day.
Qatar Airways is still flying to 70 cities worldwide, with around 150 flights per day.

“It’s a great test of a company’s agility and flexibility right now, because every time you’ve got a plan, the world changes when you wake up the next morning,” reflects Simon Talling-Smith, Qatar Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer.

“But it’s clear there is such a very strong desire amongst people all over the world to get home, so that is what we are wholly focused on right now – how can we get people home from right around the world.”

Qatar Airways has seen a steady growth in bookings “all the way thought the week”, Talling-Smith says tells Executive Traveller.

“Yes, different airlines around the world have reduced or stopped flying, but at the same time you’re also seeing governments suggesting new travel guidelines and advising citizens to come home, and I think on top of that you’ve just got this increasing sense of longing for home because people feel safe at home.”

A surge in demand will see more Airbus A380s back in the air.
A surge in demand will see more Airbus A380s back in the air.

This unexpected increase in a market has seen Qatar Airways revisit plans drawn up only last week.

Then, the airline planned to park most of its ten Airbus A380s: the superjumbos were simply too big for a suddenly smaller base of customers.

Now the Airbus A380s are being pressed into action on key routes, such as London and Frankfurt. “I don’t think any of us imagined a week ago that we’d be putting the A380s back in the air!” Talling-Smith grins, despite himself, in disbelief at the dizzying rate of change.

“For example, we’ve reintroduced the third daily flight to Paris over the last few days, and reinstated the A380, because we’ve had very very strong demand from French nationals returning from all over Asia-Pacific.”

London’s Heathrow Airport, which in April was being dialled back from six daily flights to just two, will see between three and four flights a day across April – again, with an Airbus A380 on duty.

"We’re changing things almost by the day, but across the board we are increasing the amount of flying we are doing, with both larger aircraft and more frequencies and some more destinations,” Talling-Smith says.

Qatar Airways' current worldwide network

Locally, Qatar Airways will continue flying to Sydney, Melbourne and Perth throughout April and May – with the Airbus A380 returning to Perth as of April 1, albeit running four days a week instead of the previous daily frequency. Auckland still sees a daily Boeing 777-200LR.

(Adelaide's daily Doha service, cancelled last week, is expected to return on June 1, with an Airbus A350-1000 slated five days a week.)

Popular European destinations which still see Qatar Airways flights include Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Dublin, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Helsinki, Istanbul, London, Munich, Paris, Rome Vienna and Zurich.

Also remaining on Qatar's network map in the Americas: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas Fort Worth, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Montreal, São Paulo and Washington DC.

There are a half-dozen destinations in Africa, among them Cape Town and Johannesburg, and twenty more across Asia.

A regularly-updated list of all cities to which Qatar Airways flies is available at qatarairways.com.

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 292

A 'good news story' in the worse of possible times. Thanks David, and thanks for staying vigilant and on the job.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 May 2015

Total posts 78

This is great news. I have a friend from Munich visiting whose flight home with Etihad was cancelled earlier this week. She is now booked on a flight home next week with Qatar which is a huge relief! Fingers crossed it goes ahead.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

09 Aug 2016

Total posts 19

Great, but the prices are eye watering! $26000 for one way Melbourne to London in business class

This is a very smart move by a very clever and competitive airline, to add flights and use more A380s during this 'mini-surge'. It's also worth noting that Qatar Airways has a cash refund option in the event that your flight is cancelled, unlike many other airlines who just push you to the 'travel voucher' option.

26 Mar 2020

Total posts 1

Great news but will the issues vouchers cover the cost as my elderly parents are stuck in Perth and do not have additional funds. Also can they get the voucher quicker as they ah e to wait a month for it !!!

23 Aug 2011

Total posts 61

Just had a friends son arrive home last night on QR and they had to pay $5300 one way from FCO to MEL. Had was booked to fligh home on EK but flight cancelled they gave him a full refund. No wonder QR is ramping up capacity with the demand and prices.

qf

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 7

Helps also when you are owned and operated by a government with deep pockets, unlike private airlines that need to operate on a commercial basis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1221

Good for QR but obviously this will not last.

22 Mar 2020

Total posts 4

Becoming rather frustrated as the British High Commission in New Zealand have contacted my husband and advised him there will be a Singapore Airlines flight -only refuelling at Singapore passengers remain on the aircraft - thru to UK on Sunday and advised him to contact the Airline! He's on the phone in NZ and I am here listening to the most dreadful musak, and getting no where as the cost of holding on increases. He has a ticket that will be honoured by Singapore Airlines but cannot get through to book a seat, VERY FRUSTRATING. Eventually the musak stops and you are left in complete limbo no knowing if you are still connected properly..... Has anyone managed to book this Sunday flight yet?

LP
LP

30 Jun 2016

Total posts 49

QR 931 BNE to DOH available on Monday on Qatar website and reports of people booking it back to UK on Facebook

Qatar are a real lifeline at the moment and hopefully they continue flying - our family have had to book one ways back with them after the emirates shutdown


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