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World Cup 2022: Qatar Airways cuts destinations to make way for fans

National carrier withdraws from 18 locations to create capacity at Doha airport ahead of tournament
A Qatar Airways plane takes-off from the Hamad International Airport in Doha on 20 July 2017 (AFP)
A Qatar Airways plane takes off from the Hamad International Airport in Doha on 20 July 2017 (AFP)

Qatar Airways has withdrawn from 18 destinations around the world to create capacity for football fans travelling to attend the World Cup next month. 

The national carrier’s chief executive Akbar al-Baker said its priority would be to accommodate flights landing into Doha’s Hamad International Airport for the tournament, which kicks off on 20 November. 

"No, we don't have any new destinations," Baker told a press conference on Tuesday when asked whether the airline was growing due to the World Cup.

"Quite the contrary. We have reduced and withdrawn from 18 destinations in order to make space at Hamad International Airport to bring fans.

"Our priority is not Qatar Airways' network but giving access to all countries participating and bringing in large numbers of passengers."

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Qatar expects around 500 shuttle flights each day during the tournament, in addition to charter flights and private jets. 

Football fans will be staying in Qatar, neighbouring Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates

Daily airlifts of 160 shuttle service flights from cities across the Gulf region to and from Doha are expected during the World Cup. 

The UAE is also offering multiple-entry visas at the nominal fee of 100 dirhams ($27) to people with tickets for World Cup matches.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia recently announced Muslim holders of World Cup tickets would be able to perform the umrah pilgrimage without the need to pay for a visa. 

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