Qatar Airways eyes underserved Africa for expansion
Qatar Airways’ entry into two African cities last week marks the first of potentially more route launches in the continent as the airline’s CEO spelled out a commitment to grow its regional operations.
The Libyan port city of Benghazi and Ugandan city of Entebbe have joined Doha-based Qatar Airways’ global network taking the carrier’s African portfolio to 16 destinations. In addition to the passenger flights launched to Uganda, Qatar Airways also began the first of twice-weekly dedicated freighter services to Entebbe.
With the airline now serving more than 100 destinations globally, the African component represents a sizeable figure and is set to grow even further, said Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker.
“Two route launches within two days on this diverse Continent is significant as the last time we made a foray into Africa was four years ago when we began services to Tanzania’s capital city of Dar es Salaam. So far this year we have ventured into 14 new markets, launching flights to business and leisure destinations around the world at an average rate of more than one a month. Africa has been our focus this month with start-ups to both Benghazi and Entebbe and we look forward to even more over time,” Al Baker stated during a press conference in the Ugandan capital Kampala.
“It’s premature to say where we plan to operate as we don’t want to give heads up to the competition, but there are plenty of opportunities across Africa, which remains largely underserved by international airlines.”
Al Baker stressed the importance of entering markets for the long-term, saying Qatar Airways was not in the business of moving into new territory and withdrawing, instead committing and offering convenient and efficient travel options for business and leisure passengers year-round.
“Here in Uganda, with our new daily non-stop flights to our Doha hub, we are committed to this market long term and look forward to offering the travelling public the high levels of service that they fully deserve. Since announcing our Uganda flights six months ago, we have received positive feedback from the travel trade and the business community.”