Qatar Airways Boosts Flights to Istanbul with Second Sabiha Gökçen Rotation

The new flight will launch from March 29, 2015 and will introduce a morning rotation to further support local and transfer traffic on the route. It will be operated using an Airbus A320 configured with 12 Business Class and 132 Economy seats.

Qatar Airways is to introduce a second daily rotation on its route between Doha’s Hamad International Airport and Istanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen Airport from the start of the summer 2015 schedule. The new flight will boost its flights to Istanbul to 24 a week and its Turkish network to 28 weekly rotations.

The new flight will launch from March 29, 2015 and will introduce a morning rotation to further support local and transfer traffic on the route. It will be operated using an Airbus A320 configured with 12 Business Class and 132 Economy seats.

The oneworld alliance member made its debut in the Turkish market ten years ago with the introduction of flights to Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport, the country’s largest international gateway. It now offers ten return flights per week on the route as well as a four times weekly link to Ankara.

With capacity constraints at Ataturk, but passenger demand steadily increasing for flights in and out of Istanbul, Qatar Airways chose to develop a split operation to the city from this year with the introduction of the flights to Sabiha Gökçen complementing its existing operation. The route from Doha was opened on May 22, 2014 on a four times weekly basis, but increased demand saw the frequency boosted to a daily schedule from October 26, 2014.

“Qatar Airways’ service to Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport has enjoyed exceptional popularity since its launch earlier this year.”

His Excellency Akbar Al Baker
Chief, Executive Officer, Qatar Airways Group

“Qatar Airways’ service to Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport has enjoyed exceptional popularity since its launch earlier this year," said His Excellency Akbar Al Baker, chief executive officer, Qatar Airways Group. "The start of a double daily service from March next year will further strengthen our support for leisure and business travel to Istanbul and we are certain that our passengers will welcome this initiative.”

Qatar Airways faces direct competition on both of its routes to Istanbul from local carriers. Turkish Airlines (THY) launched flights to Doha from Ataturk Airport in April 2006, while Pegasus Airlines introduced flights to the Qatar capital city from Sabiha Gökçen Airport in June 2013.

Our analysis of Qatar Airways’ operations between Doha and Istanbul during the third quarter of this calendar year (July 1, 2014 – September 30, 2014) shows that both the Ataturk and Sabiha Gökçen routes are supported by strong transfer flows via Hamad International Airport to the carrier’s wider and growing route network. Around 63.6 per cent of those flying to or from Ataturk with the carrier during the period are connecting passengers, with transfer demand accounting for 70.5 per cent share to and from Sabiha Gökçen.

Analytics of the route during the three month period show Qatar Airways has had average loads of around 68 per cent on the Ataturk route but around 50 per cent on the newer Sabiha Gökçen link. Average one-way segment fares during the quarter were also higher on the Ataturk route - $378 versus $358 – with the outbound flight from Doha 8.5 per cent more expensive, on average, than the inbound from Istanbul.

The chart, below, highlights the traffic split on Qatar Airways’ two routes between Doha and Istanbul during the third quarter of this year.

Data provided by Sabre


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