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DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Qatar’s state-owned flag carrier is including Davao and Cebu as part of its upcoming expansion plans until 2019 amid a blockade that had its financial wings clipped.
Akbar al-Baker, Qatar Airways Group chief executive, made the announcement on Wednesday, March 7, as reported by Gulf Times.
The Cebu and Davao flights are part of the new destinations detailed, apart from other Southeast Asian destinations, namely Langkawi in Malaysia and Da Nang in Vietnam. Meanwhile, more frequent flights to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam will be mounted.
Speaking at a press conference on the first day of ITB Berlin, Al-Baker said the carrier “is tremendously excited to announce further expansion with a significant number of new destinations to be added to our extensive global network throughout 2018 and 2019.”
Also part of the expansion are London Gatwick, UK; Cardiff, UK; Lisbon, Portugal; Tallin, Estonia; Valleta, Malta; Bodrum, Antalya and Hatay, Turkey; Mykonos and Thessaloniki, Greece, and Málaga, Spain.
Qatar Airways currently serves weekly non-stop flights between Ninoy Aquino International Airport and Hamad International Airport, its hub.
Wednesday’s announcement echoes the carrier’s plan which had surfaced in 2017.
The airline holds a landmark agreement with the Philippines’ Department of Transportation to add flights from Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao City as a condition for mounting 4 more flights to Manila.
Qatar Airway’s announcement was followed by reports it would be booking a huge financial loss due to flight restrictions imposed by its neighbors in the region. It lost flights to at least 18 cities in the Middle East.
But Al-Baker said “during the blockade Qatar Airways continued its expansion; it continued its march ahead. We kept our country supplied and we became prouder as a nation.”
Apart from its flag carrier, the Qatari government has had interests in the Philippines through its Qatar Investment Company. – Rappler.com