Qatar Airways has pipped its rival Emirates to the post and will launch a thrice weekly service between Stuttgart and Doha commencing on March 9 next year.
Stuttgart has long been on Emirates’ “wish list.” Not only is Germany’s “motown” one of the country’s richest cities but hardly any long-haul airlines use its airport.
So instead of being able to fly direct, business people departing this city in southwest Germany must route themselves via the likes of Frankfurt, London Heathrow or Paris CDG.
Qatar Airways has gained access to Stuttgart because its aviation treaty with Germany allows further expansion. The UAE’s Emirates cannot serve Stuttgart because, unless the German authorities grant extra traffic rights (something which they are not currently prepared to do), it has already used up its flight quota.
Qatar Airways is spreading its risks with this new route. Instead of using a wide-bodied A330, the carrier will begin flying with a smaller A319 equipped with eight business and 102 economy class seats. And initially it will fly only three times a week.
Services are timed to offer good connections at Doha with destinations in the Gulf and farther afield such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Osaka, Tokyo and Melbourne.
Flight QR937 will depart Doha at 0745 to arrive Stuttgart at 1240. It returns from Stuttgart at 1540 to reach Doha at 2345. Services operate every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
Also on March 9, Qatar Airways will boost its presence in the Bavarian market by boosting flight frequency out of Munich from seven to 11 flights a week. All these flights are being operated by A330s and will compete with Emirates’ existing 14 weekly flights out of Munich.
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker says that the German expansion was long-awaited. “I would like to extend my thanks to the German authorities for providing Qatar Airways with greater access to Germany which has been a largely underserved market from the Gulf,” he said.
“Securing Stuttgart and stepping up frequency to Munich is a great boon for the airline. The market is there and we look forward to further strengthening our position in Germany during 2011. The new services will offer convenient connections to cities across the Middle East and Asia Pacific.”
For more information visit qatarairways.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter