Qatar Airways opens Eastern Europe and CIS to enhanced global connectivity

The new non-stop link between Doha and Yerevan will commence from May 15, 2016 with a four times weekly service being flown using an Airbus A320 configured in a two-class arrangement with 12 seats in Business Class and 132 in Economy Class. The new route is understood have been facilitated by Qatar Airways’ network expansion across the US, a market which has strong links back into Armenia, but with limited current connectivity.

Qatar Airways is to boost its activities to a number of destinations across Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) during 2016 as it seeks to improve global connectivity via its Hamad International Airport hub in Doha. This network growth will see the carrier add almost 20 additional weekly flights and debut services into Yerevan, the capital of Armenia.

The new non-stop link between Doha and Yerevan will commence from May 15, 2016 with a four times weekly service being flown using an Airbus A320 configured in a two-class arrangement with 12 seats in Business Class and 132 in Economy Class. The new route is understood have been facilitated by Qatar Airways’ network expansion across the US, a market which has strong links back into Armenia, but with limited current connectivity.

Our analysis of MIDT data shows average two-way daily flows of more than 170 passengers between Armenia and the United States based on the first six months of 2015 despite no regular air services. This is an average annual demand of upwards of 60,000 passengers. This currently is concentrated around Los Angeles (over 60 per cent of the demand), with the greater Los Angeles area home to the two largest Armenian communities in the United States – Los Angeles and Glendale.

Situated along the Hrazdan River, Yerevan is the administrative, cultural and industrial centre of Armenia and offers visiting business and leisure passengers a rich and diverse history. With a city backdrop of the snow-capped Caucasus mountain range, Yerevan is one of the world's oldest continuously-inhabited cities and its diverse architecture and atmosphere is easily explored on foot.

“Qatar Airways has seen unprecedented growth in recent years, launching new destinations around the globe, while also establishing our new home and hub, Hamad International Airport,” said His Excellency Akbar Al Baker, Chief Executive Officer, Qatar Airways Group.

“With the new service to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, Qatar Airways is again enhancing its worldwide footprint and expanding travel opportunities for business and leisure passengers alike,” he added.

Armenia’s geographical position lends itself well to short-haul connections into markets in Europe, to Russia, Iran and the Middle East. However, there are more than eight million Armenians living outside the country, a diaspora that represents a significant potential of inbound tourists. Although Russia is the largest market (around two million), a notable 1.5 million are in the United States with the greatest concentrations around Los Angeles, New York, Boston, San Francisco and Detroit.

Our analysis of MIDT data shows average two-way daily flows of more than 170 passengers between Armenia and the United States based on the first six months of 2015 despite no regular air services. This is an average annual demand of upwards of 60,000 passengers. This currently is concentrated around Los Angeles (over 60 per cent of the demand), with the greater Los Angeles area home to the two largest Armenian communities in the United States – Los Angeles and Greendale.

The Armenia – US market is currently dominated by passenger flows via Moscow with Russian carrier Aeroflot, but the Gulf carriers are emerging as preferred alternative with Etihad Airways having grown to a 13.7 per cent passenger share during the first half of 2015. Other notable players in this market during this period were Air France and the now defunct Russian operator, Transaero.

Elsewhere in Eastern Europe and the CIS, Qatar Airways will introduce additional flights to Baku, Azerbaijan; Budapest, Hungary; and Zagreb, Croatia; while a new direct service between Doha and Belgrade will replace an existing one-stop direct offer via Sofia in Bulgaria.

Its flights between Doha and Zagreb will increase from daily to ten times weekly from April 3, 2016, while services between Doha and Budapest will see a similar schedule increase from July 3, 2016. The Doha – Baku offer will rise from a daily schedule to eleven times weekly from March 27, 2016 and will all be preceded by the launch of a direct service to Belgrade from March 16, 2016.

Other markets will see capacity increases as Qatar Airways switches aircraft deployment to support some of its better performing routes in these regions. One of the airline’s double-daily services to Moscow Domodedovo International Airport is currently served with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which offers 122 more seats per departure than the A320 aircraft previously used for this flight. In response to increasing demand, Qatar Airways’ daily flights to Warsaw, Poland will also be switched from the A320 to a larger A330 widebody from July 1, 2016.