Nordic travellers will have another option when flying East this winter. As exclusively announced by Business Traveller last week, Qatar Airways is to offer four flights a week from November 30 out of Stockholm to Doha and beyond.
Based on current schedules, Qatar Airways will be the sole Gulf area carrier flying out of Scandinavia since Emirates scrapped its planned Copenhagen-Dubai route last year.
Qatar's flights will connect both capital cities every Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Flight QR92 will depart Stockholm's main Arlanda airport at 1105 arriving in Doha the same day at 1900. Inbound service QR91 will set off from Doha at 0210 reaching Stockholm at 0705.
Compared with other regions of Europe, Scandinavia has a relatively small population. That is why Qatar seems to be testing the market by using a long-range version of the roughly 110-seater Airbus A319 plane rather than one of the manufacturer's larger 200 to 300 seater models. (It pulled a similar trick on the Doha-Berlin route - that too was launched with an A319 but then upgraded to a larger A300-600 as business developed.) Eastbound flights with the A319 take 6 hours 55 mins; westbound times are 5 hours 55 mins.
Qatar has two A319s in its fleet. The plane is expected to offer 102 economy class seats configured six across (3-3) seating and eight in business class disposed four across (2-2) in business class.
Legroom in economy class is 32 to 33 ins while in business class it's 55 inches. Angle of recline is 159 degrees in business class and these seats don't recline as steeply as those in the carrier's larger A330s and A340-600s because of space constraints on the A319.
There are good connections at both ends of the route. A mid-morning departure and early arrival at Stockholm permit connections from towns and cities throughout the Nordic area. Meanwhile its schedules at Doha provide onward links to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Bali, Singapore, Hong Kong, Osaka, Shanghai, Beijing, Delhi, Mumbai and Manila. Business class passengers will be able to while away the transit time at Doha by using Qatar's premium terminal.
There is a growing demand for flights between the Nordic area and Asia and SAS and Finnair hold the lion's share of the market. Few foreign carriers fly long-haul from this region.
Scandinavian travellers tend to be price conscious yet fussy, so Qatar's aim to offer high standards at value for money prices would seem to be just the ticket.
For more information go to qatarairways.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter
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