On a one to ten scale of weirdness, this is – on the face of it – quite high.
At the ITB travel show in Berlin yesterday (and where I am today) Qatar Airways announced two to three new daily flights between London Gatwick and Doha.
The flights will start on 22nd May with two new daily services.
A third service will run on Friday and Saturday between 15th June and 29th September.
All flights use a Boeing 787-8, so this will be the very good herringbone layout in Business Class and not the new Qsuite. My review of that seat is here.
This is a lot of extra capacity to add into the market with just three months notice. The continuation of the blockade with the UAE is stopping Qatar Airways being used as a cheaper indirect option to get to Dubai or Abu Dhabi
Late May is also a bad time to start a service because you are entering the peak Summer months where Doha as a final destination starts to look very unattractive due to the heat. Adding a 3rd daily flight just as the heat becomes unbearable is even odder! Most people will choose to transfer onwards, of course.
I get a feeling that this is linked to British Airways and its need to ‘use or lose’ the Gatwick slots it acquired from the administrators of Monarch. BA has possibly given its biggest shareholder free use of three slot pairs.
BA and Qatar Airways have a joint venture on routes between London and Doha so British Airways will be getting a cut of the revenue. This may also allow British Airways to effectively drop its own Doha service – which has been suspended for a while – to free up an aircraft whilst the 787 fleet is awaiting engine repairs.
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