Surprising: Qatar Airways Launching Flights To Gothenburg, Sweden

Qatar Airways currently operates flights to more than 150 destinations from its hub in Doha. The airline is constantly announcing new destinations, although they have a bad habit of not actually operating many of those flights.

How’s that Las Vegas route coming along, Qatar?

Qatar already operates flights to the four biggest cities in the Nordic/Finland region – Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo and Helsinki.

If they were to announce another destination in this region, I thought they might have chosen Reykjavik, Iceland, given the explosion in flights to and from Iceland over the past few years.

But instead, Qatar has announced that they will commence flights to Gothenburg, Sweden, five times per week from December 10, 2018.

The flights will operate with the following schedule:

  • QR173 Doha to Gothenburg departing 1:55AM arriving 6:35AM (Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays)
  • QR177 Doha to Gothenburg departing 8:20AM arriving 1:00PM (Wednesdays and Saturdays)
  • QR174 Gothenburg to Doha departing 8:05AM arriving 4:10PM (Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays)
  • QR178 Gothenburg to Doha departing 3:10PM arriving 11:15PM (Wednesdays and Saturdays)

The city of Gothenburg may sound oddly familiar to OMAAT readers, as this is Daniel’s hometown.

The flight will be operated by Qatar’s Boeing 787-8, the same aircraft type that Qatar operated to the other four cities in the region. I’m surprised to see them launch the route with a wide-body aircraft, as Qatar often launches new routes (especially to second, and third tier European cities, which Gothenburg definitely qualifies as), with narrow body A320 aircraft, which they have plenty of spare, due to the ongoing Gulf blockade.

An A320 is much easier to fill than a 787 on a new route, and this is exactly what they did when they launched Helsinki, before eventually upgrading the route to a 787.

Gothenburg should also be within the range of an A320 from Doha, despite not being a passenger’s first choice for a six hour flight.

If Qatar were to select a second Swedish city to fly to I would have expected perhaps Malmo to be it (if any), although upon checking, Gothenburg is indeed Sweden’s second busiest airport (Malmo is third), but with almost entirely short-haul flights.

Emirates and Etihad do not fly to Gothenburg, nor do any North American or Asian carriers. Gothenburg does have some seasonal charter/package holiday flights to South East Asia and Mexico from the likes of TUI and Thomas Cook. I know that Asia, especially Thailand, is very popular with Scandinavians, and I expect a lot of passengers travelling from Gothenburg on this new route will connect on to the likes of Bangkok and Phuket.

I would have just added Gothenburg to the list of destinations Qatar will ‘probably never operate to,’ but they have gone a lot further than just announcing their intention to fly there – they have actually already loaded award seats in the system for their partners.

As expected, award availability is excellent.

Although Qatar doesn’t offer discount business class seats from Europe to Asia/Australia as often as they used to, when they do the best prices are usually from Scandinavia. They also tend to have the best deals between city pairs they have just launched (as these are the hardest flights to fill).

So I would expect some very good prices from Gothenburg, to Qatar’s newest Asian destinations like Penang and Pattaya, and I will of course keep you updated if I see any great deals.

Bottom line

This new route has taken me a bit by surprise, but then again so did Qatar commencing flights to Cardiff in Wales. I’m not saying there’s no demand from Gothenburg, rather that if no other ME3, Asian or North American carrier flies there that there is enough demand for a five weekly 787 service.

It’s always excellent to see new routes and new award seats, I just didn’t think there was huge demand for Gothenburg, compared to some other markets they don’t fly to in Europe like Lisbon or Dusseldorf. Unlike Las Vegas, which I don’t believe Qatar will ever actually operate, I do think there’s a good chance of this route actually happening.

What do you make of Qatar’s decision to fly to Gothenburg?

Comments

  1. if they already fly to CPH then Malmo would make zero sense. Gothenburg has some big industry (I think) so maybe it makes some sense

  2. I’m from Malmö, and consider CPH my home airport. Malmö is for Wizz Air flights and sometimes Stockholm. Since I haven’t got a car, CPH is more accessible for me.

  3. @ raksiam – I mean I’m more surprised they picked Gothenburg as their next European destination, over somewhere like Reykjavik. I didn’t actually think they would launch Malmo flights.

  4. Oops completely missed the note where James actually mentioned that this is Daniel’s hometown

  5. It is probably no stranger than Cardiff… Having said this Iran Air do fly from Stockholm, Gothenburg and Copenhagen and are launching fromm Malmö as well so maybe there is demand from various diaspora as well as Swedes going East to the far east such as Thailand and Vietnam which is popular amongst Swedes.

  6. Why on Earth is Reykjavik a more logical destination than Gothenburg? Its catchment area has twice the population of the entire country of Iceland for starters…

  7. I am from GOT and this not a surprise to me. West coast Sweden has one the strongest economies in Europe at the moment. Volvo, Astra Zeneca, SKF, Ericsson and SAAB are thriving (some more than others obviously) Let’s not talk about the cargo money QR will make from this route.

    People here have money and they want to spend it!!

    Also, AY has 3 flights a day and Turkish 2 daily. Did someone say price war?

    Welcome QR to GOT 🙂

  8. @ Mike – I meant that I expected Qatar to launch flights to cities like Lisbon, Dusseldorf or Marseille before Gothenburg.

  9. British Airways also run 3 DAILY flights from GOT

    James, I am sorry but you have not done your homework…

    There is money being spent in Gothenburg.

  10. In all honesty I think that Gothenburg isn’t that surprising. Yes, unlike Reykjavik it’s relatively close to other QR operated airports, but as someone already mentioned, the population of Gothenburg is almost double that of Iceland, not to mention that there’s probably a greater demand. I think another potential market is Billund, DK. Aside from those that leave nearby, many people leaving in Sylt, Germany (€€€€) use it as their “home” airport and there are only seasonal charters to Thailand and Cancun, so there could be some demand.

  11. But you are right James, one would think that they’d first launch flights to larger airports like LIS or DUS prior to GOT.

  12. For info:
    Scandinavia consists of Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
    The Nordics consists of Scandinavia plus Finland, Faroe Islands and Greenland

  13. There are flights from GOT airport to Iran and Iraq, do you still consider these flights as “short haul”?

    Also, Helsinki/Finland is not in Scandinavia.

  14. Gothenburg is a large city that generates significant volumes of outbound travel to places such as Thailand and Southeast Asia. That’s exactly the type of market Qatar looks for. Reykjavik, meanwhile, is a small city. While there is a large amount of inbound summer seasonal traffic, Reyjavik does NOT generate huge outbound traffic loads to middle east/ southeast asia/ australia in the winter time. Gothenburg does. Reykjavik does not generate inbound tourist traffic in the winter. Gothenburg generates consistent traffic all year long. This isnt really that hard when you get beyond the surface veneer of analysis.

  15. If I had to guess, this is a cargo related decision. Fish exports perhaps? Its a big part of Boeings 797 NMA case for a widebody, is there is also a MOM market for cargo, where you need more capacity than an a321 but less capacity than a dedicated freighter.

    Airbus’ a321xlr they just announced as a paper concept wont be able to compete against Boeing’s hypothetical NMA widebody in the cargo market. Routes like this are an interesting case study for what we might see 10-15 years down the road.

    Asia is another interesting place to look for routes like this.

  16. Ridiculous article – you clearly have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Check Qatar yields & loads on flights ex-Stockholm. Sweden is a very very attractive market for them. All of Scandinavia is. They just upgraded Oslo to 350-900.

  17. Oh James, i’m a huge fan of you there’s hardly anything surprising about this route launch as others have said.

    You shouldn’t have even mentioned Düsseldorf in the article as it’ll probably never happen anytime soon due to the bilateral air traffic agreement Qatar has with Germany. They are allowed to serve a max of 3 cities and they do that with FRA, MUC & TXL. Very much the same way EK has been wanting to serve Berlin but in their case, no UAE carrier is permitted to serve Berlin!

  18. @D, sadly I have to agree. This whole article makes no sense. Flights to Malmo when they already fly to Copenhagen?? I think Daniel should have taken this one.

  19. I sometimes travel there for work via OneWorld, and it’s often a pain because it often requires one or two (often lengthy) layovers. So the added options, larger capacity, and increased competition are welcome additions. Given that Gothenburg has a large presence of several major global businesses such as Volvo, Mölnlycke, and Essity (SCA), with a great deal of that travel to/from in business class, it makes sense that the demand is there at least from the high-revenue flyers, such that any economy flyers would be just icing on the cake. Since Reykjavik is not only smaller but also more of a leisure/vacation destination, the choice is reasonable.

  20. @James, Normally a fan of your FA uniform posts, but Malmo… seriously?? You live in London yet you’re basically telling me you’ve somehow never watched any single episode of The Bridge!?!? (must be your sunny disposition or something :-D)
    Anyhow – if GOT has the capacity, why not.
    Not sure if it’s related, but on the TG Flyertalk forum we’ve heard news that TG’s ARN-BKK PE service (basically J hard product with Y soft product at almost J prices) is going to be dropped and replaced with true J. Presumably because the demand for J ex-Sweden is strong.

  21. I’m looking forward to flying into GOT in lie-flat vs. the crap offering on BA when flying from Asia.

    Best route announcement in years (biased given my amount of time spent in/ex GOT).

  22. No surprise that QR added this route. It should have been added 2 years ago.

    James, go to bed you’re drunk!

  23. Qatar flies to Pattaya? Seriously? That’s giggle-worthy . Not that it will be a market for Qatar in Scandinavia ( Bangkok, Phuket, Hua HIN, the Islands, the north, yes).

  24. Don’t they/didn’t they do a ton of oil exports from Gothenburg? I feel like I read somewhere that’s why Flying Blue used to have that “petrol” elite level.

  25. Some basics of the area:
    Gothenburg is an economically viable area. QR operating to GOT is hardly surprising (and very bad news for Finnair who now have a fair share of Asian and North American travel ex-GOT).

    Because of its close proximity to CPH and also its poor demographics, Malmö doesn’t generate much travel, let alone long haul demand, out of MMX. I guess places like Baghdad might be viable ex-MMX, but otherwise there simply isn’t enough demand. CPH is Malmö’s principal airport.

    Iceland is a very small country with a population of 330.000. There’s not enough demand domestically and no airlines to feed QR from anywhere.

  26. QR flying to Gothenburg before the other ME3 (with all their problems) start to do so isn’t that surprising. As Emirates have shown for years with flights from places like Glasgow to DXB, if you’re the first you can corner the market. I really don’t understand the idea that Iceland would be a better idea. If you fly to Iceland from a hub then in the main you’re trying to attract locals to fly with you somewhere in a third country aren’t you? – Iceland has hardly any locals.

    Again, I’m sorry to say, I very overly simplistic analysis from James who clearly understands how he likes to fly, but seems to have little grasp of how the economics of it work.

  27. Notwithstanding all the very valid arguments about Iceland’s small population, what about traffic going *into* Iceland? I know its tourist industry has been booming (certainly hordes have been coming from Greater China as everyone’s must-Instagram destination in the past couple of years). Granted a lot of low yield, seasonal Y traffic.

  28. QR is under pressure to diversify their network as a result of the blockade that has shunted them out of some key markets. They need to therefore look for new destinations that are out of the ordinary. Whether this will pay off for them remains to be seen.

    While, it seems that Goetherberg is a busy airport, I wonder whether there is enough east bound demand to support a 787? I believe the blocked airspace over Saudi Arabia that entails a diversion over Iran may render certain routes at the outer limit of wide bodied aircrafts beyond scope. Qatar is certainly not in an enviable position.

  29. Scandinavia/Finland region, or simply Nordic region, not Nordic/Finland region…

    Finland is not part of Scandinavia, but surely is Nordics…

  30. @ T – as you will see from the earlier comments, everyone seems to have a different opinion of the definition of both Scandinavia and ‘the Nordics’.

  31. @ Aman – as I noted in the article I’m surprised they aren’t launching this with an A320, as they did with Helsinki. They have plenty spare because of the gulf blockade.

  32. @James
    You make the point about Qatar’s capacity in the context of the blockade and other political constraints. Why then are they not offering the mother of all sales and offering us fares too good to resist? In fact it seems like the reverse: since their troubles began, with a couple of notable exceptions, discounted QR fares have been hard to find. I don’t understand their logic in that regard.
    Much of my QR travel used to be via Cairo, including the last flight in, so obviously that’s out for now. But for a good product , at a cheapish fare, I’m anyone’s…and to/from anywhere, including Gothenburg. A further advantage is easy status credits for O/W.
    But decent fares on QR are very rare these days.

  33. @James: Sorry to have to call you out but the definition of Scandinavia and Nordic is not up for debate or “opinion” it is based on what they actually factually mean! This is besides the point of the article anyway – but it is symptomatic of the type of blasé/lazy attitude to accuracy that annoys many of us.

  34. @James – yep there are many opinions, but myself being Finnish and living in Finland I am keen to stick to facts on this topic.

    The official definition is:
    Scandinavia: Sweden, Norway, Denmark
    Nordic countries: Scandinavia + Finland, Iceland

    I don’t generally like to nitpick, but I got the chance even once!

  35. I agree with all the previous posts! Why on earth would this be so strange? For you information the metro area of Gothenburg surpassed 1 million last year, which makes it almost the same size as both Oslo and Helsinki. Malmö has only about 300,000 and is 20 minutes from CPH airport, while all of Iceland has 250,000! On top of that the Swedish Economy is very strong and Gothenburg home to many major companies.
    Gothenburg is also served by Iran Air A330 twice weekly and Turkish 14 times per week…

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