Dubai – Qatar Airways plans to start 12 new destinations, in addition, to direct flights to San Francisco early next year as part of efforts to expand its routes into the United States.
This was announced Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker, at a news conference on the first day of Arabian Travel Market in Dubai on Monday.
The Gulf carrier’s US expansion contrasts with rival Emirates, which said this month it would cut flights on five US destinations from May due to a “significant deterioration” in bookings. The decision followed US President Donald Trump’s attempts to restrict travel from some Muslim countries, which has hit demand from the Middle East.
“We didn’t have massive declines like other carriers,” Al Baker clarified. “We will continue our expansion,” he informed.
The airline has seen “some decline” in passenger demand on US routes, but he said this was manageable.
Qatar Airways has delayed plans to start flights to Las Vegas until the second quarter 2018, from the first quarter of that year.
The airline along with Emirates airline and Etihad Airways, has faced more than two years of opposition in the United States from domestic airlines, led by major carriers American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines.
The three US airlines accuse their Middle East rivals of receiving billions of dollars in state aid and have lobbied the US government to investigate.
“We create jobs, we buy American, We invest in the United States and I think we outweigh whatever job creation these three American carriers are doing,” the CEO said.
He also said Qatar Airways would sign in the next “few days” an agreement with Italy’s Meridiana. Qatar Airways has been negotiating to buy a 49 percent stake in the Italian airline for over a year.
The Doha-based airline will also make an application with the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) for an Indian airline operating license in the next few weeks, he informed. Qatar Airways has said it plans to operate a domestic Indian carrier with around 100 jets.