|Qatar to introduce all nonstop flights to Zagreb and Sofia stop to Belgrade|
Qatar Airways will be modifying its services to the former Yugoslavia next year with changes in operations to both its Zagreb and Belgrade flights. The Qatari carrier, which launched services from Doha to Zagreb via Budapest in 2012, will now operate all of its flights to the Croatian capital nonstop. A total of five weekly rotations are planned starting March 1, 2015, down from the current seven, with four flights presently operating via the Hungarian capital and decreasing to three from December 14. As a result, Zagreb Airport will no longer be linked to Budapest. Qatar Airways holds fifth freedom rights between Budapest and Zagreb and vice versa, which allows the airline to sell tickets on the short segment as well. It will be the first time since the demise of Malev Hungarian Airlines two years ago that there will be no links between the two capital cities. The Hungarian carrier operated up to eighteen weekly flights on the route at the time of its collapse.
Qatar’s nonstop flights to Zagreb, which were launched prior to the start of the 2014/15 winter season, are a testament to the route’s success since it was inaugurated just over two years ago. Flights to the Croatian capital have proved popular with tourists transiting through Doha from the Far East. Furthermore, the route also provides good connections for passengers heading from Zagreb to South East Asia and Australia. Earlier, the CEO of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker, said, “Whether it’s Bangkok, Dubai, Shanghai or Manila, our seamless connections from Zagreb to the East, via our Doha hub, will provide holidaymakers and business travellers from Croatia with a wider network of destinations to choose from”. He added, “Croatia, with its flourishing tourism industry, remains a popular destination for travellers from the Middle East, Asia Pacific and beyond. With our new service, we look forward to making it easier for travellers from around the world to fly to Croatia without having to connect through busy European hubs”. Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific codeshares on the flights.
Qatar Airways has also signalled changes to its Belgrade flights, which operate via Ankara. From March 1, the five weekly service will see a stop in Sofia rather than the Turkish capital. Qatar has not been granted fifth freedom rights to carry passengers between Sofia and Belgrade, as is the case with its present Ankara stop. Currently, Air Serbia operates daily flights between the Bulgarian and Serbian capitals. Qatar’s flights to Belgrade have steadily increased since they were launched three times per week in late 2012, despite facing strong competition from Etihad Airways, which last year inaugurated daily flights from Abu Dhabi. Furthermore, the Qatari carrier indirectly competes against Air Serbia’s daily service to the Emirati capital. Both flights to Zagreb and Belgrade will operate with an Airbus A320.