Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Doha To Dubai: The World’s Most Exciting Route?

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Doha to Dubai is arguably one of the world’s most exciting routes – or at least was before the blockade started. While a very short route, it had 33 daily departures with nine types of widebody used – including the A380. And the glory days of the route will no doubt return.

Before the blockade began, Doha-Dubai was one of the most exciting routes in the world. And it probably will be once more. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Doha to Dubai International doesn’t sound an exciting route. If you’re looking at flights now, you’d be correct. There are just three departures on Sunday, May 9th. Two are with Qatar Airways and one with flydubai – with Qatar Airways using both the B777-300ER and B777-200LR on the 235-mile service.

This gives a suggestion of the former glory of the route which had more than 30 departures a day, many by widebodies – including the A380. That was before the blockade was imposed. It was – and will be once again – a highly interesting route because of:

  • The number of aircraft types used
  • Big use of widebodies
  • High frequency
  • Short length (45 to 50 minute flight time)
  • Because many are surprised that it could sustain such service
On the day of writing this article, QR1002, operated by the A350-900, had a scheduled departure time from Doha of 01:00 and an arrival time in Dubai of 03:10 (one hour ahead). This is an important flight as many arrivals in Doha feed it. Image: Radarbox.com.

Blockade

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar in June 2017. This resulted in a blockade that severed links – including air service – between Qatar and those countries. This meant flights to/from Doha often required circuitous detours that significantly added block times, fuel burn, and ultimately competitiveness.

The blockade ended nearly three years later in January 2021, after which flights have slowly started to return – except to Bahrain.

Because of the pandemic, flights are still nowhere near the level they were previously. In 2016, almost 71,000 operated between Doha and these four countries, analyzing OAG data indicates. This year, it’s barely 11,000, a drop of 85%. But they will return, and Dubai will once again be top.

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The B777-300ER was the most popular widebody between Doha and Dubai before the blockade began. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Nine widebody types to Dubai International

On the randomly chosen day of January 5th, 2017, there were some 59 daily departures – and almost 8,000 one-way seats – between Doha and the UAE. Some five airports were served: Abu Dhabi; Dubai International; Dubai Al Maktoum; Ras al Khaimah; and Sharjah.

With 33 departures that day to Dubai International with Emirates, flydubai, and Qatar Airways, this route was all-important. Widebodies had just over half of the flights spread across nine types, including the A380 with Emirates and the A340-600 with Qatar Airways, as follows. The A340-600 was retired in 2019.

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  1. B777-300ER: six departures with Emirates and Qatar Airways
  2. B777-200LR: three; Emirates
  3. A330-300: two; Qatar Airways
  4. A330-200: one; Qatar Airways
  5. A340-600 one; Qatar Airways
  6. A350-900: one; Qatar Airways
  7. A380: one; Emirates
  8. B777-300 (non-ER): one; Emirates
  9. B787-8: one; Qatar Airways
On January 5th, 2017, Emirates had one A380 departure from Doha. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Dubai has always been very popular for Qataris and residents in the country, with Hotelier Middle East saying that “before the rift, Qatari overnight visitors formed a key part of Dubai’s tourism industry”.

In full-month January 2017, an estimated 390,000 round-trip passengers flew between Doha and Dubai International, booking data from OAG Traffic Analyzer indicates. Of these, approximately 211,000 passengers – 54% – were point-to-point. This means Doha-Dubai saw over 3,400 P2P passengers daily each way. The rest were in transit.

Doha-Dubai had about 211,000 P2P round-trip passengers in January 2017, while around 179,000 connected over either Dubai or Doha. Photo: Getty Images.

33 departures; spot the A319s

On this January 2017 day, Dubai International was by far Doha’s number-one non-stop route out of the 139 in its network, OAG data shows. It had more than twice as many departures as number-two, Bahrain. Meanwhile, Doha was also Dubai’s top route too, this time out of 186.

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Qatar Airways had 17 of these 33 departures, as shown below, with eight types used, including the A320 on seven flights and the A319 on two. Can you spot the A319s? With so many different aircraft used, Doha to Dubai is probably the best example of right-sizing aircraft to demand.

Departure time: Doha to Dubai International Airline Aircraft
01:00 Qatar Airways A330-300
02:30 Qatar Airways A340-600
03:10 flydubai B737-800
03:40 Emirates B777-200LR
05:55 Emirates B777-300ER
06:00 Qatar Airways B777-300ER
07:00 Qatar Airways A320
08:00 Qatar Airways A320
08:30 flydubai B737-800
09:00 Qatar Airways B777-300ER
09:50 Emirates A380
10:00 Qatar Airways A330-300
11:50 Emirates B777-300ER
12:00 Qatar Airways B787-8
12:15 flydubai B737-800
13:00 Qatar Airways A319
14:00 Qatar Airways A319
14:50 Emirates B777-300ER
15:00 Qatar Airways A320
15:20 flydubai B737-800
16:00 Qatar Airways A320
16:40 Emirates B777-200LR
17:00 Qatar Airways A320
18:00 Qatar Airways A320
18:10 Emirates B777-200LR
18:25 flydubai B737-800
19:00 Qatar Airways A330-200
20:15 flydubai B737-800
21:00 Qatar Airways A350-9000
21:05 Emirates B777-300ER
22:25 flydubai B737-800
23:30 Emirates B777-300
23:59 Qatar Airways A320

Did you fly between Doha and Dubai? If so, what aircraft were you on? Comment below!

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