Qatar Airways continues to tweak its summer network activities and changes to its schedule this month show it will significantly increase capacity on its routes between Doha and Istanbul, Turkey and the Indonesian capital Jakarta. The growth of these two markets has been accelerated due to a faster than expected increase in demand and the arrival of new equipment, said a source close to the fast-growing Gulf carrier.
The change on the Doha – Istanbul route was implemented from July 1, 2013 when Qatar Airways introduced a widebodied jet in the market, resulting in an increased capacity of 166 seats per day, nearly a 50 per cent increase. Formerly operated with Airbus A320 Family short-haul equipment, the carrier is now using a two-class, 282-seat (24 in Business Class and up to 258 in Economy) A330-200 on the route.
“After 10 successful years of operations in Turkey, we are absolutely delighted to introduce a wide body aircraft on our Istanbul route, which will provide our passengers extra capacity and an optimised level of service and comfort,” said Akbar Al Baker, Chief Executive Officer, Qatar Airways.
Istanbul is a popular route for leisure and business traffic and the additional capacity will provide greater options for travellers in the midst of the holiday period. The route was initially introduced with 3 weekly flights and has now increased to a 10 flights a week due to strong passenger demand from the Turkish market.
Qatar Airways made its debut on the Doha – Istanbul route in June 2004 but was followed less than two years later by Turkish Airlines (THY) which inaugurated its own operations in March 2006. In 2008 and 2009, Qatar Airways was the dominant carrier in this market with a share above 50 per cent, but this has declined in subsequent years falling to 47 per cent in 2010, 44 per cent in 2011 and just 40 per cent last year as THY has strengthened its market position. In 2012 an estimated 55,000 bi-directional O&D passengers travelled between the two destinations.
Meanwhile, Qatar Airways has also uploaded a revised schedule for its Doha – Jakarta route in the GDS with frequencies increasing from eleven times weekly to a double daily offering from September 1, 2013. The additional three weekly flights will be operated using an A330 meaning the carrier will offer a daily 777 and daily A330 operation. The airline’s capacity is due to further increase from October 27, 2013 when aircraft switches will result in a 777 being deployed on eleven of the 14 weekly rotations.
According to MIDT data, in 2012 and estimated 48,000 bi-directional O&D passengers travelled on the route, up 11.0 per cent on the previous year. This point-to-point demand was supplemented with strong transfer traffic with an estimated 192,000 bi-directional passengers connecting via Doha to other destinations in the Qatar Airways network. The largest flows last year were to the Saudi Arabian destinations of Jeddah, Dammam and Riydah.
Qatar Airways has already launched six new destinations this year – Gassim (Saudi Arabia), Salalah (Oman), Najaf and Basra (Iraq), Phnom Penh (Cambodia) and Chicago (USA) – and over the next few months, the network will grow further with Sulaymaniyah, Iraq (August 20), Chengdu, China (September 3) and recently-announced new routes to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (September 18), Clark International Airport, Philippines (October 27) and Philadelphia, USA (April 2, 2014).