Qatar Airways ups Germany flights

The Doha-based state carrier has added Hamburg (HAM) as a fifth Destination in Germany, following Berlin (BER), Dusseldorf (DUS), Frankfurt (FRA), and Munich (MUC). The inaugural flight was operated by an Airbus A350, but the route will normally be served by a slightly smaller Boeing 787-800 jetliner. The aircraft can accommodate 8 tons of cargo in its lower deck compartments. The new route was warmly welcomed by local shippers and the forwarding community.

Local VIPs together with QR managers, flanked by QR flight attendants welcomed the airline’s first flight to Hamburg – photo: courtesy HAM Airport

This is because the Doha hub gives them access to a dense flight network that Qatar Airways offers to passengers and cargo customers alike. The airline serves more than 170 destinations. The north German economy is particularly interested in transportation to and from Africa, Southeast Asia, and Oceania via Doha. Typical export products are ship spare parts, aircraft components, instruments, machine parts, and high-tech goods. Imports are dominated by textiles, agricultural products and general cargo.

No cannibalization expected
According to Alexander Müller, Head of Cargo at Hamburg Airport, cargo throughput at the airport will increase by 11% thanks to the Qatar Airways flights. He expects between 5,000 and 5,500 additional tons per year, with exports and imports likely to balance each other out in terms of volume, which suggests a high-capacity utilization of Qatar Airways’ Dreamliners on this sector.

He does not see any cannibalization of Emirates or Turkish Airlines flights. This has not happened in Dusseldorf, where the three airlines also compete directly for passengers and freight volumes. Müller anticipates minor shifts at best, but these are unlikely to be relevant, although the three carriers operate a similar network worldwide. The manager also points to another effect: thanks to the new Qatar Airways flight connection, there is no need for trucking services from northern Germany to Dusseldorf or Frankfurt, to feed the Qatar Airways capacity offered there. This will shorten the supply chain and reduce CO2 emissions.

Ground handler Swissport benefits
The ground handling agent for Qatar Airways Cargo in Hamburg is Swissport, which is based at the Hamburg Airport Cargo Center (HACC) with direct access to the apron.

Following the arrival of the inaugural flight, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Officer, Engr. Badr Mohammed Al-Meer, said: “Qatar Airways warmly welcomes the beautiful city of Hamburg as the latest destination in its extensive route network and the fifth gateway to Germany, a key market for the airline. As the bilateral relationship between Qatar and Germany continues to strengthen, we are delighted to add this route, which will further strengthen the important economic and trade ties between the two countries. With our centrally located hub in Doha, we are well positioned to facilitate exports from East to West and vice versa.”

No good flight connections – no economic progression
The city’s First Mayor, Peter Tschentscher, thanked him for the statement and replied: “Hamburg is an international city with centuries-old trade relations with all continents. Good flight connections via Hamburg Airport Helmut Schmidt are important for the economy, science and culture of the Hanseatic city. Qatar Airways is one of the best and most modern airlines and is now adding Hamburg to its network of over 170 destinations with daily flights to Doha. I would like to thank everyone involved in the cooperation between our airport and Qatar Airways and wish them every success with the new flight connections from Hamburg to the rest of the world.”

Finally, Christian Kunsch, Chairman of the Executive Board of Hamburg Airport, warmly welcomed Qatar Airways to HAM, as well, stating: “As the largest commercial airport in northern Germany, our aim is to be well connected internationally. The new air link between Hamburg and Doha, one of the most important and fastest-growing aviation hubs, greatly increases connectivity between Hamburg and the world.”

Tonnage up, revenues down
For fiscal 2023/24, Qatar Airways Cargo reports a 12.9% increase in tonnage, reaching 3 million tons. However, revenues went south 25.8% year-on-year, totaling QAR15.3 billion (3.88 billion EUR). According to the carrier, the drop reflects an overall market decrease in air freight rates last year, as demand weakened, and extra passenger capacity entered the market following the Covid-pandemic. Meanwhile, volumes have increased again as the airline re-introduced belly capacity following the end of the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the 12-month period, Qatar Airways Cargo launched new freighter services including Algiers, Algeria / Bogota, Colombia / Dallas Fort Worth, USA / Dammam, Saudi Arabia / Miami, USA / Sharjah, UAE / and Warsaw, Poland. Currently, Qatar Airways Cargo operates to more than 170 belly-hold and over 70 freighter destinations, utilizing more than 200 passenger aircraft and a total of 28 B777 freighters.

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