Qatar Airways is believed to be re-launching services from Doha to Nice in 2016, after resolving a longstanding disagreement with the French government over air traffic rights.
Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and Gulf Air all fly to Nice, but Qatar Airways halted its services to the French Riviera city at the start of 2013.
The Gulf airline has since been working to address restrictions on air traffic routes imposed by the Paris government, and related disagreements over fares and competition issues.
Dominique Thillaud, president of Aéroports de la Côte d’Azur, the owner of Nice, Cannes and Saint Tropez airports, told Arabian Business that the talks have been successful and Qatar Airways is set to re-launch its Doha-Nice service at the beginning of 2016, once the agreement with the French government has been formally ratified.
“This is very good news for my territory,” he said, adding that around 265,000 passengers travelled from the Middle East to Nice-Côte d’Azur Airport alone last year.
The number is not big in terms of volume, he noted, but is significant in terms of contribution to the local economy – through shopping, hotel stays and real estate investment.
He added: “We have a longstanding relationship with the Middle East. For us it is a powerful tool to drive economic growth and create jobs in France.
“This year we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Emirates Airlines operating services to Nice, and we hope to develop the same strong relationship with other Gulf airlines.”
Qatar Airways did not respond when contacted by Arabian Business for comment.
The company’s chief executive Akbar Al Baker was quoted as telling French TV channel France 3 in June that new traffic rights had been secured, but they bore “no relation” to a contract that had been recently signed with the French government.For all the latest transport news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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