Qatar Airways announced that it had identified ten new destinations that it plans to launch next year, giving hope to several airports in the former Yugoslavia which have been courting the Gulf airline for several years. The Qatari airline introduced seven new routes in 2023 and restored eleven destinations, which were maintained before the pandemic. Qatar Airways recently settled its dispute with Airbus, which saw the airline return more than twenty grounded A350 aircraft to service, revive its canceled A321neo order and take delivery of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. “We believe the Balkans are underserved and we want to provide the Balkan countries with the five-star product they deserve. This is why we focus on markets with great opportunities, which benefits both parties, the people of these countries and Qatar Airways as well. We will continue to pursue opportunities in this region,” the airline noted.
Qatar Airways halted flights between Doha and Skopje at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020 and has yet to return. The airline told EX-YU Aviation News that it would resume operations in the Macedonian capital “once it is commercially viable.” The Macedonian government and airport operator TAV tried to secure the return of Qatar Airways. Macedonian Minister of Transport and Communications Blagoj Bočvarski spoke with Qatar’s ambassador to the country, during which he highlighted the need for Qatar Airways to restore services between Doha and Skopje. “It is particularly important for us to renew flights between Skopje and Doha in order to maintain trade relations between the two countries,” Bočvarski said. Airport operator TAV Macedonia said: “Almost all destinations maintained from Macedonia’s two airports before the Covid-19 crisis are now back, with the exception of Doha and Dubai from Skopje Airport. TAV Macedonia is working hard to get these two destinations back, as they offered a solid transfer. connections for the Macedonian diaspora in Australia and New Zealand, as well as connections for travelers to Japan, China, India and exotic destinations in the East. “Qatar Airways welcomed 29,856 travelers on its Skopje route in 2019. The majority of passengers were They originated from or were primarily destined for the Australian market – 33%, followed by India 7%, Thailand 5% and Singapore 4%.
Qatar Airways was due to introduce seasonal summer flights between Doha and Dubrovnik on April 20, 2020. The service, which was to be maintained between three and five times a week until the end of October with the A320, was canceled following the Covid-19 epidemic. As the Australian and Southeast Asian markets have seen strong growth since the lifting of travel restrictions, which were the main source markets for Dubrovnik’s service, Qatar Airways may reconsider plans to include the coastal city in its network . Qatar Airways entered the Croatian market in 2012 and was one of Zagreb’s busiest airlines before the pandemic, welcoming more than 130,000 passengers to the city in 2019.
Qatar Airways has already expressed interest in serving Ljubljana. Before the pandemic, Akbar Al Baker, former CEO of the airline for 27 years, said: “Ljubljana is under consideration. We plan to operate many destinations with our narrowbodies.” Earlier this year, the airline started code sharing on Air Serbia’s flight. Last year, a large Qatari delegation, led by Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, visited Slovenia, during which potential flights were discussed. “Regarding air connectivity between Ljubljana and Doha, Qatar Airways is very interested in the European market, but opening a new route requires time to study the market. Once this is completed, flights will be launched. Slovenia is a tourism-driven country that relies on this sector as the main resource of its economy and has attractive facilities. Tourism between the two countries could see a boom in the coming period,” the Qatari delegation said.
Qatar Airways will participate in the upcoming Dubai Airshow next week. EX-YU Aviation News will be at the event and plans to tell you more about what Gulf carriers have in store for the region.