More Mid East carrier competition welcomed

Qatar Airways’ planned additional frequencies out of South Africa will increase competition on routes into the Middle East and offer better connections, particularly from Cape Town.

The airline will add a morning flight from Johannesburg and an evening flight from Cape Town, it announced in February.

The airline is using a staggered introduction. The weekly Johannesburg frequencies will increase by four, from 14 to 18 from July, and then with an additional flight, to 19 in August. A further two flights will be added to the airline’s winter schedule (South Africa’s summer), taking the total number to 21 per week by the end of October.

Three flights will be added to the Cape Town route from October 27, taking the total from seven to 10.

Flight QR1366 will depart Johannesburg at 08h00 and arrive at 17h50 in Doha and flight QR1365 will depart Doha at 20h40 and arrive in Johannesburg at 04h35 the next day.

Flight QR1372 will depart from Cape Town at 18h40 and arrive in Doha at 05h55 the next day. Return flight QR1371 will depart Doha at 07h50 and arrive in Cape Town at 17h10.

Sharon Leong, ceo of Thompsons Travel, Johannesburg, welcomed the increase, which shows confidence in the South African market and will increase competition among the Middle Eastern carriers.

A Cape Town evening flight is desperately needed, says David Pegg, md of Sure Viva Travels, and this will provide better connections to Europe and North America. He says the flight into Johannesburg will be great, offering great onward connections in SA, and that leaving Doha in the evening will also provide good connections for SA-bound pax connecting in Doha from European flights.

However, he says the 08h00 departure from Johannesburg is a little puzzling because Qatar won’t have quick connecting times in South Africa and onward flights out of Doha. He pointed out that there will be no inbound traffic from Port Elizabeth, East London, Bloemfontein and Kimberley.

Moreover, the majority of Qatar’s onward connections to Europe depart around midnight and many onward connections to North America depart in the mornings – including Los Angeles, Boston, Washington and Montreal – making the Joburg morning flight unattractive. 

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