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Qatar Airways upbeat on Latin America expansion

Qatar airways Unsplash/Saif Zaman
Qatar Airways reported a record annual revenue of $21bn in 2022, up 45% from the year before

Qatar Airways is optimistic about Brazil and the overall Latin American market as part of a global network expansion strategy on the heels of a World Cup-driven surge for its business.

The airline reported a record annual revenue of $21 billion in 2022, up 45 percent from the year before, and a $1.21 billion net profit, driven by the huge flow of passengers it transported to the Fifa World Cup.

But even without that non-recurring boost in coming years, the airline still projects a bright future.

“That’s a precursor to how we see 2023, 2024 shaping up,” Craig Thomas, the carrier’s vice president of sales in the Americas, said in an interview on Friday.

The World Cup was part of Qatar’s strategy to attract 6 million visitors per year by 2030, he said, and the goal now is to capitalise on the legacy left by the tournament.

That includes promoting improved infrastructure, such as hotels and restaurants, and encouraging travellers who make a connection in Qatar to stay for a few days, Thomas said.

The carrier revealed this year it could expand its destinations to more than 255 from 170, although that would depend on a bigger expansion of its fleet.

Expansion plans include Latin America, where the carrier is bringing back flights to Buenos Aires via Sao Paulo, looking to attract both Argentines and transport Brazilians to one of their top international destinations in the neighbouring country.

Qatar Airways will also increase its Sao Paulo-Doha service to 18 from 14 flights a week, Thomas said, allowing it to connect most of its network by Qatar’s capital to the Southern Hemisphere’s largest city, regardless of departure time.

“Our flights from Brazil are operating at high load factors already, to the point where we’re having to turn away some customers because the flights are full,” Thomas said.

The South America expansion, he said, will certainly take place in 2024.

“We are confident and optimistic about the Brazil market, enthusiastic about the growth that we’ve seen and the demand that continues.”