The lifting of the Qatar blockade means flights can resume among many Middle Eastern countries, including Egypt. Prior to the blockade, regular flights were scheduled between Doha and various Egyptian cities by both EgyptAir and Qatar Airways. So will flights resume between the two countries?
Egpyt formally reopened its airspace to Qatar yesterday, clearing the way for flights to resume between the two countries. According to Reuters, EgyptAir’s Chairman has confirmed that the airline will return to Qatar next week, after over two years.
EgyptAir will operate two routes to Qatar from January 18th, one daily service between Cairo and Doha, and a four-times-weekly flight from Alexandria to Doha. A second flight between the capital cities could be on the cards if demand for the route picks up.
Qatar Airways is yet to confirm plans about returning to Egypt at the time of writing. Prior to the blockade, the airline flew services to Cairo, Alexandria, and Luxor. Speaking to Reuters, sources at Cairo Airport have said that Qatar Airways plans to restart flights soon and is pending approval from the authorities.
Details about exact routes, aircraft, and timings will likely be announced in the coming days. However, considering lower demand right now, we can expect scaled back services for the next few months compared to 2017 levels.
The reopening of airspace and routes between Qatar and its neighbors will be a boon for airlines. An analysis from Anna.aero shows that before the blockade, over 800,000 seats were available between Doha and Cairo in 2016, and over 270,000 between Doha to Alexadria (both ways).
The resumption of flights will see some of this capacity return and allow passengers to avoid circuitous connecting flights. Currently, the shortest flight between the cities can take nearly six hours due to a stop in Jordan, Lebanon, or Turkey.
There were 20 direct routes between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt in 2017, with over 1,400 weekly flights. The blockade’s end will mean many of these routes will slowly resume, restoring connectivity in the region.
Saudi Arabia flights resume
The most tangible sign of the end of the blockade in Qatar Airways’ return to Saudi Arabia. The carrier returned to Jeddah on Monday, flying an Airbus A350 for the short, one-hour hop between the cities. Airlines from both countries had already begun using each other’s airspace following the announcement on January 5th.
The coming weeks will likely see more airlines and routes resume as countries formalize agreements. Popular routes from Doha to Dubai and Bahrain could be on the cards again, kicking off strong competition in the region once again.
What do you think about the resumption of flights? How will it impact the aviation industry? Let us know in the comments!