Qatar blames Open Skies for withdrawal from Gatwick

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker has blamed the withdrawal of UK carriers from Gatwick as the reason for Qatar’s recent decision to drop services from the airport.

As previously reported on Business Traveller (see online news March 1), the carrier said the move was necessary for “commercial reasons.”

Speaking exclusively to Business Traveller, Al Baker said “Gatwick to us became less attractive due to the fact that all the American feed we used to get there evaporated with the Open Skies [agreement] between the US and Europe which meant that all the American carriers moved to Heathrow.”

Al Baker said that without the feeder traffic “the domestic traffic wasn’t enough, and what there was, could easily be carried over Heathrow”.

Qatar has already announced an increase in Manchester services to twice daily, and Al Baker said that Qatar “… will soon be looking at other UK airports”, though refused to be drawn on which would be first on the list. “We have several options”, he said.:

Manchester-Doha twice-daily schedules from June 1:      

  • Depart Doha QR041 at 0150, arrive in Manchester at 0730      
  • Depart Manchester  QR042 at 1000, arrive in Doha at 1900       
  • Depart Doha QR045 at 0745, arrive in Manchester at 1325      
  • Depart Manchester QR046 at 1455, arrive in Doha at 2355

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Report by Tom Otley

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  • I’d love to see them at Edinburgh. Would be great competition for Emirates ex-Glasgow for Scotland based travellers.

  • What a nonsense. Qatar’s decision to pull out of Gatwick has absulutely nothing to do with Open Skies. The real reasons are their limited choice of departure times ex-LGW, which makes it difficult to offer convenient connections via Doha in both directions, as well as the fact that it tends to charge considerably more than Emirates without offering the latter’s flexibility (EK: three daily flights operating at consistent departure times vs. QR: one flight a day operating at different times on different days of the week).

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