Qatar Airways has started three-times daily services to Sharjah International Airport and double-daily flights to Dubai World Central (DWC) Al Maktoum International Airport.
Together with existing flights to Dubai International and Abu Dhabi International Airport, its UAE schedule rises to 26 flights a day. Both new routes are operated on A320 aircraft.
The most business-friendly Sharjah flight is the same one as the inaugural one today – QR1036 which departs Doha at 0815 and arrives Sharjah 1015, with QR1037 departing Sharjah 1115 and arriving in Doha 1115. The other two flights are scheduled early morning and late night.
Doha-Dubai World Central flight times look good for day-tripping execs too, with QR1028 departing 0600 and arriving 0810 and QR1029 leaving DWC 0910 and arriving Doha 0915 (QR1034 departs Doha 2030, arriving DWC 2240 and QR1035 departs DWC 2340 and arrives Doha 2345).
Speaking at the Sharjah launch route today, CEO Akbar Al Baker said it will help grow commercial links with the emirate, as well as help funnel passengers onto its global network via Doha, and capitalise on Sharjah’s proximity to Dubai, given the latter’s ongoing growth in the run-up to Expo 2020.
Al Baker, who said its initial DWC load factors are running at 70 per cent, hailed the new airport as one that will “change the regional aviation landscape” – although he added that the delayed Hamad International Airport, due to open imminently in Doha, will also be a “game changer” with its amenities and facilities. He said it is appealing to US authorities to provide customs clearance facilities, mirroring recent developments in Abu Dhabi.
HE Ali Salim Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Airport Authority, said work on a new runway will get underway soon.
Air Arabia CEO Adel Ali attended the press conference and although Al Baker said it was in a welcoming rather than investment capacity, interestingly he said there was room for co-operation. But last week’s announcement, that it will start business class flights to London in May, suggests Qatar’s current focus is more at the premium end of the market than low-cost.