Qatar Airways Cuts 18 Destinations Ahead of FIFA World Cup
The Gulf State's flag carrier is prioritizing routes to countries participating in the FIFA World Cup tournament.
Less than one month before the FIFA World Cup 2022 kicks off in Qatar, the country’s flag carrier, Qatar Airways, is temporarily suspending routes to up to 18 destinations to make room for an influx of fans during the tournament.
The Oneworld alliance member announced during a press conference on Tuesday that its primary focus during the tournament will be to accommodate the enormous increase in flights expected to land at Doha’s Hamad International Airport (DOH), including from other airlines.
The axed routes are expected to affect primarily Asian destinations, including India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh—none of which will participate in the World Cup.
When asked by a journalist if the airline would be adding routes to accommodate fans, the chief executive of Qatar Airways, Akbar al-Baker, said, “No, we don’t have any new destinations. Quite the contrary. We have reduced and withdrawn from 18 destinations to make space at Hamad International Airport to bring fans.”
Al Baker noted that the airline’s priority is not Qatar Airways’ network “but giving access to all countries participating and bringing in large numbers of passengers.”
The month-long soccer tournament begins on November 20 and will see athletes from 32 countries compete for one of the biggest prizes in world sport, with the final match to be played on December 18.
The Gulf State is expected to see around 1.2 million foreign visitors during the World Cup, putting a lot of strain on the country’s infrastructure of just over 2.8 million people.
Organizers in Qatar have already made moves to deal with the influx of passengers, including reopening the late Doha International Airport (DIA) and creating a shuttle service between the two airports and the stadiums.
It is expected that 500 flights per day will fly in and out of Doha during the tournament. The vast majority will be carrying World Cup fans.
“I’m very happy to say we now have many airlines applying to come to Hamad International for the first time,” said al-Baker. “Lufthansa want to restart their operations; we have Air France, KLM,, and many other carriers that want to come,” he added.
From November 1, only passengers with a World Cup match ticket will be granted entry to Qatar. Visitors must also apply for a ‘Hayya Card’ — a visa required for admission to the country, stadiums, and public transport.
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