By Shane McGinley
Carrier can 'no longer sustain the route for commercial reasons', CEO says; flights to be suspended from May 31
Doha-based Qatar Airways is to suspend its scheduled flights to London Gatwick airport from May 31, claiming it can “no longer sustain the route for commercial reasons,” the carrier’s CEO confirmed in a statement.
“We are extremely sad to be losing London Gatwick from our network. It’s been an incredible seven years since we launched the non-stop Gatwick services,” said Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker.
“Following a thorough review and analysis over the past 12 months, we concluded that we could no longer sustain the route for commercial reasons,” he added.
The final flight to London’s second largest airport in the south of the British capital will operate on May 31.
The five star airline said in a statement that passengers booked on flights after May 31 to and from Gatwick will be provided with alternative travel options on other UK services operated by Qatar Airways, which include four daily flights to London Heathrow and double daily flights to Manchester.
The statement did not say whether there would be any job losses. However Al Baker added that “Gatwick-based staff have been informed of the decision and we are working very closely with them to help secure alternative positions at London Heathrow, Manchester and elsewhere within our network.”
Dubai’s Emirates Airline remains as the only Gulf-based carrier servicing London Gatwick.
Last summer, a study by investment bank UBS found that Middle East airlines account for 36 percent of aircraft traffic to and from Europe.
In terms of routes, the Dubai-London route generates the most traffic, while Doha-London was also in the top five.
This is probably the initial closure of a number of routes that is unsustainable by QR who will struggle if they do not get their strategy right. The Brand is strong however need to have a clear strategy that is linked to its 5th and 6th freedom traffic and its point to point traffic i.e. (What will people do when they get to Qatar!) Big question in the current downturn where business travel is cut to minimum
Admire Qatar Airways for taking this decision. it is always good for business to take a commercial decision and not an emotional decision. Other sectors will not have to pay for the losses generated by Doha-Gatwick sector and the Airline will remain competitive.
Sad for me as we use Qatar to fly to the Mid East and Gatwick is my docking station in the UK as I live in Portugal. It restricts the choice down to Emirates who will probably increase flight fares.
Living 10 mins from Gatwick this is a shame, I have used them on a number of occasions to go to Abu Dhabi. I must say, great service on their planes as well. A high quality, well run airline, as are most of the ME carriers. What a shame that BA's service doesn't get close and their attitude and helpfulness is light years away.
This is a great shame for anyone travelling from the Gulf wishing to head south of London with ease. Flying into Heathrow is just such a horrid nightmare.