Not directly connected to the World Cup, Qatar Airways has increased winter Doha to London Heathrow flights to 7x daily – its highest ever number. It seems part of a closer relationship between the airline and British Airways, with more developments coming. And when London Gatwick is included, the pair have 9x daily Doha-London flights, the joint highest to date.

Qatar Airways: 7x daily to Heathrow

Starting on October 29th, just before the winter season kicks in, Qatar Airways will grow Heathrow flights from 6x daily to 7x. Note that 7x won’t be every day. The higher frequency will operate in both directions on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. Currently, it’s unclear from whom it has secured the slots.

Things get a bit more complicated. Currently, British Airways supplements Qatar Airways with a 1x daily from Heathrow. Between them, they have 7x daily. But on November 1st, BA shifts Doha to Gatwick, doubling Gatwick flights to 2x daily. Qatar Airways’ expansion at Heathrow – a record – will thus effectively but not fully replace BA.

Qatar Airways A380

Qatar Airways itself has not had more than 6x daily Heathrow flights before – until now. Photo: Getty Images.

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9x daily London flights

The following table highlights Qatar and BA’s Heathrow and Gatwick flights on randomly chosen November 8th. Notice matching times: two departures from Doha at 01:50 and two from Gatwick at 14:05. And also other very similar times, such as 08:05/08:35 and 14:15/14:55 from Heathrow. While it looks suboptimal, it does at least enable much greater passenger/freight uplift at peak times, growing market share.

Doha-London times Flight number Aircraft London-Doha times Flight number Aircraft
01:15-05:45 Gatwick BA2032 B777-200ER 08:05-17:55 Heathrow QR6 B777-300ER
01:50-06:20 Heathrow QR9 B777-300ER 08:35-18:25 Heathrow QR10 A380
01:50-06:25 Heathrow QR11 A380 14:05-23:45 Gatwick BA2033 B777-200ER
07:45-12:15 Heathrow QR3 A380 14:05-23:50 Gatwick QR328 B787-8
08:05-12:25 Gatwick QR327 B787-8 14:15-00:05+1 Heathrow QR4 A380
08:50-13:20 Heathrow QR7 B777-300ER 14:55-00:45+1 Heathrow QR8 B777-300ER
13:00-17:30 Heathrow QR1 B777-300ER 18:55-04:45+1 Heathrow QR12 B777-300ER
15:20-19:50 Heathrow QR15 B777-300ER 20:30-06:20+1 Heathrow QR2 B777-300ER
17:30-22:00 Heathrow QR5 B777-300ER 21:20-07:10+1 Heathrow QR16 B777-300ER
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Qatar Airways London

When writing on September 23rd, these five Qatar Airways flights are airborne to/from London. Highlighted is A7-ADB, operating QR3 with the call sign Qatari Six Nine Lima. Image: Flightradar24 . 

Where do London passengers go?

The UK CAA shows that, in 2019, Qatar Airways and BA carried 1.6 million roundtrip passengers between London and Doha. These included point-to-point passengers, those who transited London, those who connected over Doha, and those who ‘bridged’ both cities.

Indeed, looking only at Qatar Airways, approximately 75% of passengers – nearly eight in every ten – transited Doha to destinations elsewhere. It isn’t surprising that South Asia was by far the largest region. It had over 50% more passengers than the second-largest region, Southeast Asia.

Qatar Airways (OneWorld Livery) Boeing 777-3DZ(ER) A7-ABF

The B777-300ER remains vital to the airline’s Heathrow operation. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

India: the top country

At country level, India was Qatar Airways’ largest market to/from London. In 2019, the oneworld carrier had 13 India routes: Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Kozhikode, Mumbai, Nagpur, and Trivandrum. All remain served.

India traffic was followed by Australia, Thailand, Pakistan, Nepal, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Singapore. The importance of visiting friends and relatives and leisure demand is obvious. Such traffic usually is great for volume and filling aircraft, but less good for yields.

The ten largest airport pair markets are shown below. Note the lack of India (the first is Heathrow-Amritsar in 16th), the result of Qatar Airways’ extensive operation in the country. While each Indian market was relatively small, the accumulative effect was significant.

  1. Heathrow over Doha to/from Kathmandu
  2. Heathrow-Colombo
  3. Heathrow-Dhaka
  4. Heathrow-Bangkok
  5. Heathrow-Sydney
  6. Heathrow-Singapore
  7. Gatwick-Bangkok
  8. Heathrow-Denpasar Bali
  9. Heathrow-Kuala Lumpur
  10. Heathrow-Lahore

Have you flown Qatar Airways to/from London? If so, share your experiences.

With thanks to Sean Moulton for the advanced notice.


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