Browsing 'aviation' News

Qatar Airways/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The decision by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to suspend all flights to Doha is causing considerable disruption and frustration for Qatar travelers.

With schools coming to a close and Eid Al Fitr around the corner, the busy summer travel season draws near. And many expats and nationals have already seen their flights canceled.

Sanjiban Ghosh/Flickr

Hamad International Airport

This is because Emirates, Etihad, Gulf Air, Egyptair, Air Arabia, Saudia and Fly Dubai have ceased operations to and from Hamad International Airport for now.

Additionally, Qatar Airways has been forced to cancel flights to these countries.

So residents hoping to fly with the national carrier to these places will also need to make other plans.

How to get a refund

All of the airlines that have suspended flights are offering passengers a refund or the opportunity to re-route.

Clément Alloing/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

While some customers are choosing to wait and see whether the diplomatic situation eases in the coming days, many have decided to cash in their tickets.

Some said they are opting to book with Qatar Airways instead, as direct flights out of Doha to non-boycott destinations are still operating normally.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.If you want to opt for a refund, here are the contact details you need to get your money back:

Etihad: Customers are being asked to call +971 2599 0000, or visit‎ etihad.com to request a refund.

Emirates: Customers who booked their tickets through a travel agency should contact their agents. Customers who booked with Emirates directly can process refunds for their tickets at www.emirates.com/refund or contact their local Emirates office.

Fly Dubai: Passengers who have purchased tickets for travel between Dubai and Doha are advised to call +971 600 54 44 45, the flydubai travel shop in Doha on +974 4 4227350/51 or their travel agent. Passengers can also send a private message on Facebook to arrange a refund for any unused tickets.

jbarcena

Photo for illustrative purposes only

Air Arabia: Customers can call Air Arabia’s call center on +971 6 5580000 or visit www.airarabia.com.

Gulf Air: Passengers should contact the Gulf Air Worldwide Contact Centre on +973 17373737 or visit the airline’s website gulfair.com for further information.

The airline says it’s offering “alternative options, including full refunds on unused tickets and free re-booking to the nearest alternate Gulf Air destinations.” However, we have heard that some passengers are being charged a US$50 cancellation fee.

Saudia: Passengers should call 44440121. The airline says that it has waived all ticket restrictions (Rebooking / Rerouting / Refund and No-show ) for affected passengers holding confirmed tickets via Doha.

Egyptair: Customers who booked through a travel agency should contact their agents. Customers who booked with the airline directly can process refunds for their tickets by contacting the Doha office (+974 44356020 / 44356040.)

Finally, those booked with Qatar Airways to any of the affected countries can also get a refund. Passengers can call 4022 0072 or contact their nearest Qatar Airways office for more info.

Have your travel plans been affected by the Gulf dispute? Were you able to get a refund for your tickets? Let us know at [email protected]

Cebu/Facebook

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The low-cost Philippines carrier Cebu Pacific Air will stop flying to Doha at the beginning of July because the route is no longer financially viable, it said.

The airline has been flying direct to Qatar for just over two years, and announced that its last return flight from Manila to Doha will be on July 1.

It will also cease flying to Kuwait from mid-June and the Saudi city of Riyadh in early July.

3dom/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Passengers who are already booked on flights after these dates can transfer to another airline offering the same routes (subject to availability), book for an earlier flight with Cebu Pacific (also depending on availability) or get a full refund.

The airline “strongly advised” all such passengers to contact their travel agents or its hotline (+632 7020 881) to discuss their options.

Too much competition

Cebu Pacific is essentially halting the routes due to too much competition, according to Atty JR Mantaring, vice president for Corporate Affairs of Cebu Pacific.

In a statement this week, Mantaring said:

“Of late, other carriers have aggressively added more flights, which has resulted in substantial oversupply of seats and fares that are so low, hence making the routes unsustainable…

At this point, it makes more sense for us to re-deploy the aircraft used for our Riyadh, Doha and Kuwait service to routes where we can further stimulate demand and sustain our low fare offers.”

Cebu Pacific will continue to fly to Dubai and Sydney and may increase capacity to these cities, the statement added.

Crowded market

The airline began direct flights between Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport and Hamad International Airport (HIA) in Doha in June 2015.

A 436-seat, all-economy class Airbus A330 flies between the cities twice a week. It was initially popular when the route first started because of its competitive fares.

Wikimedia

Ninoy Aquino International Airport

While Qatar Airways also flies twice-daily direct flights on the same routes, prices were usually higher.

The national carrier increased its service to the Philippines’ capital in July 2015. That’s the same month that Cebu started its direct Doha-Manila service.

National flag carrier Philippine Airlines also began offering the same route earlier this year, in a bid to meet the needs of Qatar’s 260,000-strong Filipino population.

Philippine Airlines/Facebook

Philippine Airlines (PAL)

That carrier operates four times a week, on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday on A330 aircraft.

Its daytime departure and arrivals times, and its competitive introductory prices, has attracted many travelers.

Tickets range from QR885 to QR2,745 in economy, and include WiFi and meal service. Passengers can also check in two pieces of luggage, weighing up to 23kg each.

A business class option could be rolled out this summer.

Are you due to fly with Cebu Pacific soon? Thoughts?

Qatar Airways

The new “QSuite” in Business Class

Qatar Airways has announced a major revamp of its Business Class, with the launch of what it’s calling the “QSuite.”

The seats won’t be available to passengers until this summer.

But the airline’s CEO Akbar Al Baker introduced the “revolutionary” change at the ITB tourism conference in Berlin yesterday.

Qatar Airways

The new “QSuite” in Business Class

The QSuites, which will be fitted both forward-facing and rear-facing, come equipped with doors to offer greater privacy.

Some of the seats in the middle sections will also have the capability to convert into a double bed.

Additionally, the middle seats have a screen that can open up to allow four passengers to eat together or chat.

The airline has created a special hashtag for the launch called #FirstInBusiness, to assert that it offers a First Class service experience in its Business Class cabins.

Summer launch

According to Al Baker, all of the airline’s existing aircraft will be retrofitted with the new seats by the summer of 2018.

But by this June, the first aircraft to be fitted with the new seats will the Boeing 777s that fly to London Heathrow, he told journalists.

Qatar Airways

The new “QSuite” in Business Class

Aircraft flying to Paris and New York’s JFK airport will follow shortly, he said.

Al Baker added that the airline’s Boeing 787s and Airbus A380s will have different QSuites due to their dimensions.

Qatar Airways

The new “QSuite” in Business Class

All of the airline’s new Boeing 777 and Airbus A350-1000s will be delivered with QSuites, he added.

No premium economy

Addressing other queries from the press, Al Baker reiterated his statement that the airline has no plans to introduce a Premium Economy class.

He did however add that Qatar Airways will bring in new economy seats “down the line.”

Richard Lee/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The airline has made changes to the interior of its Boeing 777 fleet over the past two years, fitting 10 seats per row in the economy cabin, instead of nine.

The move reduced the width of each seat by almost two inches, to 17 inches across.

Al Baker also stated his intention to start up a Qatari-owned domestic airline in India “soon,” the Times of India reported.

And when asked his opinion on the ongoing spat between American and Middle Eastern carriers, he replied:

“Donald Trump is a business man and will do what’s in the best interest of the American people.”

Thoughts?