With the eyes of the world on Qatar today for the draw of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Doha’s Hamad International (DOH) is hoping the tournament will act as a catalyst to attract even more air service to the airport.
VP strategy and commercial development Sujata Suri said the airport is witnessing “significant interest” from airlines in Europe, Asia and North America—not just to operate scheduled service during the course of the tournament from Nov. 21 to Dec. 18 but also beyond.
About 1.8 million visitors are expected to descend on Qatar for the sport’s flagship event. Twenty-nine of the 32 nations set to take part have now been confirmed.
“We are expecting many more carriers to operate to Doha during the World Cup,” Suri told Routes. “We have developed a targeted support program for airlines that will assist them in developing scheduled routes.
“The World Cup is definitely a great opportunity for all airlines to experience Hamad International’s operational excellence as well as Qatar’s market potential."
American Airlines is launching a new route from New York John F Kennedy (JFK) on June 4 as it seeks to drive traffic through Doha to points in oneworld alliance partner Qatar Airways’ network. In addition, Germany’s flag-carrier Lufthansa has confirmed the addition of flights from Frankfurt (FRA), commencing on Nov. 14 and running until Dec. 19.
Hamad International has developed an on-boarding strategy to help scheduled and charter carriers start operations during the World Cup. The airport hopes the tournament will spur more long-term interest in Qatar, particularly more O&D traffic.
“There is no doubt that the World Cup has given the country great visibility,” Suri said. “These kinds of events leave an amazing legacy to the hosts for many of them becoming the springboard of their tourism development.
“We are already working in close coordination with Qatar Tourism and other stakeholders in the value chain to promote this new world-class tourism destination—and we are ready to welcome and support airlines and tour operators.”
Hamad International is currently served by 36 carriers, according to OAG Schedules Analyser data. Flag-carrier Qatar Airways commands about 88% of all departure seats.
The latest figures for the week commencing March 28 show capacity is back to around 85% of pre-pandemic levels. The airport expects capacity to fully recover to 2019 levels by peak summer.