Qatar Airways sets eyes on OFW market

MAIDEN FLIGHT. Qatar Airways delighted plane spotters in Davao City with its Boeing 787, which will be used to operate flights between Doha, Qatar and Davao City. (RJ Lumawag)

QATAR Airways is targeting the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) market to fan its recently-opened Doha-Davao direct flight.

Qatar Airways country manager for the Philippines Rohan Senevirante said in a press conference on Wednesday, June 19, that Qatar serves as the third largest destination for OFWs.

“We documented more than 255,000 OFWs who currently reside in Qatar, that is 17 percent of our total population,” he said.

Qatar Airways, named as Skytrax’s 2019 Airline of the Year, had its historic inaugural flight from Doha to Davao City on June 18. The return flight to Doha carried 26 passengers mostly OFWs.

He added that beyond OFWs, the airline also looks at the religious and leisure travelers.

“We are looking at religious travelers to the Holy Land. We are also looking for those into leisure travel, as we have observed, there are few leisure travelers from Davao and the Southern part of the Philippines,” Senevirante said.

The new connectivity has stirred interest of travelers in Mindanao to visit Qatar and Senevirante emphasized that their state has a lot to offer in culture and attractions.

“I strongly suggest for you to take holiday in Qatar. We have a lot of 4-star to 5-star hotels and shopping areas, we also offer city tours. Qatar is also home to world-class museum and art galleries, the latest is National Museum of Qatar. Of course, a visit in Qatar is incomplete without checking the desert that meets the sea,” he said.

The airline official added that most of its passengers from the Philippines fly to Qatar because of work or transit point to other destinations like Europe, Africa, and America.

For instance, passenger Eloisa Fe Balagat, who is en route to Norway via Doha took the maiden flight of Davao-Doha on Tuesday, June 18. She was with her mother to visit her sister.

“We welcome this direct flight because it is now easier for us to travel especially that our mother is using a wheelchair,” she said.

Though Qatar offers visa-free entry to 80 nationalities, Filipinos who wish to travel to Qatar for tourism or business still need to secure a visa prior to traveling. Visa on arrival is not available for Filipino travelers.

Captain Donaldo Mendoza, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines deputy director general for operation, for his part said, the new route signals vast opportunities for both cities.

“Qatar Airways is giving greater exposure and bringing more passengers to Davao and the rest of the country,” he said.

Qatar Airways senior vice president Asia Pacific Marwan Koleilat also said that they are confident that leisure travelers from Doha, Qatar will find much to enjoy in Davao City.

“The Philippines is an important destination for us, with 50 weekly passenger flights to and from Qatar and we are delighted to now be able to connect travellers directly to Davao, one of the busiest in the Philippines,” he said.

The officials and executives of Qatar Airways stayed for a couple of days in Davao City and took a tour around the city. The airline also brought members of the media and some influencers from Qatar.

Davao City is the third in the Philippines chosen by Qatar Airways to open a direct flight after with Manila and Clark. The present average load factor in its Manila and Clark flights is pegged at 80 percent.

Asked if the security situation in some parts of Mindanao were taken into consideration before opening the route, Senevirante said it has never been an issue as Davao City is considered as one of the safest cities in the country.

The multi-awarded airline will serve the route weekly, every Friday using its Boeing 787 Dreamliner with 22 seats in Business Class and 232 seats in Economy Class.


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