Key Points:

  • Xiamen Airlines, a subsidiary of China Southern Airlines, has announced that it will initiate flights to Qatar starting late October, collaborating with Qatar Airways on routes connecting Doha with Beijing and Xiamen.

  • Currently, flights between China and the Middle East are nearing full recovery, with around 130 weekly flights to destinations including Qatar and the UAE, despite overseas flights from China operating at roughly half the pre-pandemic levels.

  • The new routes come as an opportunity for Qatar Airways to widen its network in China through a partnership, as it has already reached the maximum weekly flights limit, and allows Xiamen Airlines to allocate some of its Boeing 787 aircraft, freed from the reduced US routes, to this new Middle Eastern route.

Xiamen Airlines Partners with Qatar Airways to Launch New Routes as Air Travel Revives

BEIJING —In late October, Xiamen Airlines Co., a subsidiary of China Southern Airlines Co., is poised to inaugurate routes to Qatar, thereby solidifying Sino-Middle Eastern aviation connections amidst the gradual revival of air travel post the Covid pandemic. Confirming earlier speculations by Bloomberg News, the airline disclosed its collaborative venture with Qatar Airways, aiming to establish routes linking Doha with Beijing from October 20, and Xiamen commencing on October 31.

At this juncture, Qatar Airways stands as the solitary carrier facilitating direct connections between China and Doha, operating a total of 31 round trips weekly. Despite the international flight frequency from China hovering around half of what it was before the pandemic, connectivity with Middle Eastern counterparts like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates is nearing pre-Covid levels with approximately 130 weekly services. Other key players, including China Eastern Airlines Corp. and Air China Ltd., maintain active routes to Dubai, with additional services provided by Emirates and Etihad Airways to Abu Dhabi.

On the contrary, the recovery pace for direct Chinese air routes to the US trails significantly, with current operations standing notably below the figures recorded in 2019. Xiamen Airlines maintains a thrice-weekly schedule for Los Angeles, a stark decrease compared to the pre-pandemic offering that also included New York.

The carrier extends its international connectivity map to include destinations such as Amsterdam, Paris, Sydney, Melbourne, and Vancouver. The considerable dip in US-bound flights has permitted Xiamen Airlines to reassign some of its Boeing Co. 787 jets — comprising a dozen in total — to bolster its newly acquired Middle Eastern route.

This collaborative movement promises an expanded horizon for Qatar Airways in the Chinese market, circumventing the limitation imposed by the already maximized number of weekly flights, and paving the way for a broader service range through this promising partnership.