Qatar Airways to begin Abuja; it’ll serve 26 African airports in 2021

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Qatar Airways has revealed that it’ll begin Abuja from 27 November, just a few days after it was announced.

It’ll be served three-weekly – Wednesday, Friday, Sunday – via Lagos in both directions using B787-8s.  This is despite backtracking over 500 kilometres each way.

On the other four days, its Lagos service continues to Accra and returns via Lagos.

With Abuja’s start, Qatar Airways will have added three African destinations in 2020, with Accra and Luanda joining the Nigerian capital. 

Abuja will now be the carrier’s third destination in West Africa and its 26th across the continent in 2021. This is up from 24 in pre-coronavirus 2019 and 14 in 2010, OAG data indicates.

In 2021, Africa will have an 8.31% share of the operator’s total seat capacity.

Qatar Airways Abuja service will be less competitive than others

Abuja – Doha has very low point-to-point demand of around 1,800, booking data from OAG Traffic Analyser shows.

However, Qatar Airways has a potential market opportunity of over 232,000 passengers to/from Abuja. 

This is based on looking at Qatar Airways’ top-100 O&Ds involving Lagos and applying to Abuja, given the same feed opportunities will exist over Doha, and eliminating non-stop traffic as they’d be less likely to switch.

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Abuja’s most-demanded O&Ds are: London Heathrow, Guangzhou, Washington Dulles, Beijing, New York JFK, Delhi, Beirut, Houston, Manchester, and Kuala Lumpur.

The reality, of course, will be considerably different, with Qatar Airways only having a three-weekly service and a two-stop offering via both Lagos and Doha.  This is clearly suboptimal, product-wise, than the alternatives.

Come mid-December, so not back to ‘normal’ levels:

  • Air France will have a twice-weekly service via Lagos (B777-200s)
  • British Airways daily non-stop to Heathrow (B777-200s)
  • EgyptAir four-weekly non-stop to Cairo (B737-800s)
  • Emirates five-weekly non-stop to Dubai (B777-300ERs)
  • Ethiopian Airlines daily non-stop to Addis Ababa (A350-900s)
  • Lufthansa three-weekly non-stop to Frankfurt (A330-300s)
  • Turkish Airlines five-weekly non-stop to Istanbul (B737-900s)

Of these seven carriers, Ethiopian Airlines was the leading carrier at Abuja last year, with 242,000. It has grown well there over the years. Emirates, which started Abuja in 2014, was second with 219,000.

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