When I first flew through Doha, Qatar, in mid-2017, I’d not seen an airport with so few carriers; every plane bore the distinctive maroon livery of Qatar Airways (the exception, strangely, being a lone jet belonging to LATAM, who soon afterwards signed a partnership with QR).
But Hamad International Airport (HIA) could be in for a significant boost in visiting airlines, after the State of Qatar signed an open skies agreement with the European Union (EU).
The first deal of its kind between the EU and a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) state, the agreement will give all carriers from the 28 EU member states and Qatar “unlimited and unrestricted access” to their respective territories.
Qatar Airways Group CEO, His Excellency Akbar Al Baker, said the Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement would offer a “common platform for airlines in Europe and Qatar to understand each other better, creating new opportunities for collaboration and cooperation”.
“Our hope is that the success of these negotiations will encourage other trading blocs and significant aviation markets to join in achieving a liberalised global aviation regime for future generations,” he said.
“We approach the principle of fair competition very simply: fair access to markets, competing for market share based on products and services of what the customer wants and is willing to purchase.”
Announced by European Commissioner for Mobility and Transport, Mrs Violeta Bulc, the agreement comes amid ongoing intra-regional geopolitical tensions between Qatar and its Middle Eastern neighbours.
Qatar Airways operates 230 aircraft via its hub to more than 160 destinations.
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