Qatar Airways cuts expansion plans for Africa over boycott
DUBAI - Qatar Airways has decided to cut plans to expand routes to some previously planned destinations in Africa following the Arab quartet's boycott of the Gulf state.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain broke off diplomatic relations with Qatar on June 5, 2017. They closed all land, sea and air links with Doha over its close ties with Iran and alleged support for radical Islamist groups.
In a Twitter post, the Qatari airline said on February 28 it "had to suspend some planned new destinations, especially in West and Central Africa.”
Qatar Airways had said last year the boycott directly affected its revenues. The airline said seat occupancy on flights leaving Qatar was down 19% and its fleet had been forced to fly longer routes, raising fuel costs. It cancelled flights to 18 destinations.
The economic implications of the airlines' modifications of its routes were the source of additional pressures. “It is painful because there are many routes that slide as much as 2 1/2 hours longer, and there are routes that are narrow-body routes where we had to convert to wide-body in order to carry enough fuel to go the longer distance,” said Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker last September.
(With additional reporting by Reuters)