Middle East : Qatar Cargo boosts freighter services
Qatar Airways’ cargo division has announced it will begin scheduled dedicated freighter services to three North American destinations – Atlanta, Houston and Toronto. The new North American services will be operated with Qatar Airways’ B777 freighters and will fly from the airline’s hub in Doha via Luxembourg. Atlanta and Houston will be served with twice-weekly flights from 1 November, while the Toronto services began five days later on 7 November. In North America, Qatar Airways currently operates dedicated freighters only to Chicago. The carrier also flies daily non-stop passenger services to Houston, New York and Washington, together with thrice-weekly flights to Montreal, offering sufficient cargo space in the belly of the aircraft. Meanwhile, Qatar Airways’ passenger services to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia were supplemented with a weekly cargo flight, effective 30 October. In addition, extra cargo flights are being operates to Chicago, Colombo, Bahrain, Dammam, Hong Kong and Tehran from 30 October. Over the past few months, Qatar Airways Cargo has significantly ramped up its expansion with increased frequencies and the order for a further three B777 freighters. Recent frequency increases have been implemented to Kuwait, Bengaluru, Kozhikode and Hanoi. Qatar Airways Group chief executive officer Akbar Al Baker said that the airline’s dedicated cargo network was an extension of the airline’s strategy to develop its global air transport business. “With the recent completion of our 35 per cent stake in Cargolux, Europe’s largest cargo airline, we have increased our focus on freighter operations, which ties seamlessly into the airline’s strategy to have as many connecting points across the globe from our Doha hub,” said Al Baker. “We have identified tremendous route expansion opportunities around the world, including North America where the freighter market is huge.” Qatar Airways Cargo currently has a fleet of three A300-600s and two B777 freighters. Qatar Airways expanded its passenger services to Entebbe in Uganda from early November; and Chongqing, the airline’s fifth China gateway, from 28 November. Flights to Baku and Tbilisi, the capitals of Azerbaijan and Georgia respectively, will be launched on 1 February next year. Separately, Qatar Airways has announced plans to launch four-timesa- week non-stop passenger service from Doha to Libya’s second largest city of Benghazi on 1 November utilising A320 aircraft. As part of the airline’s aggressive route expansion strategy to fly to diverse cities, Benghazi is yet another destination which is underserved and will benefit from new international flights, the carrier said. Benghazi, Libya’s north eastern Mediterranean port city and major economic centre, is a key destination for trade and exports. Many industries including oil refining, food processing, cement production and tuna fishing, reside in the surrounding region of Cyrenaica, of which Benghazi is the capital. Qatar Airways has a well established presence in Libya, having initially operated services to the capital Tripoli eight years ago. Flights to Tripoli are currently suspended due to the political situation, but are expected to resume soon.