Gulf airlines to lay on World Cup shuttle flights, says Qatar Airways

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A logo of Qatar Airways is seen at Hamad International Airport in Doha

© Reuters/NASEEM ZEITOON A logo of Qatar Airways is seen at Hamad International Airport in Doha

By Andrew Mills

DOHA (Reuters) -Qatar Airways said on Thursday that fellow Gulf Arab airlines would operate more than 160 daily shuttle flights to Qatar during the soccer World Cup, allowing fans to fly in from nearby cities before a game and return at the end of the day.

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker told a news conference that United Arab Emirates (UAE) airline flyDubai, Oman Air, Kuwait Airways and Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) would operate shuttle flights and that the UAE’s Etihad and Air Arabia may also join the scheme.

The shuttle flights would alleviate logistical, accommodation and policing pressure on tiny Qatar and allow neighbouring Gulf states to benefit from the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East in November.

Qatar hopes the tournament will attract roughly 1.2 million visitors, or almost half of the country’s population.

Flydubai will operate up to 60 daily flights from Dubai carrying up to 2,500 fans, Baker said, while Oman Air will run up to 48 daily flights from Muscat carrying up to 3,400 fans.

Saudia will operate up to 40 daily flights carrying up to 5,000 fans from Riyadh and Jeddah. Kuwait Airways will operate up to 20 flights a day carrying up to 1,700 fans.

(Reporting Andrew Mills and by Maher Chmaytelli; writing by Ghaida Ghantous; editing by Jason Neely)