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Thursday, October 27 2022
Qatar Airways pulls flights, creates Fifa Visa to make space for football fans

Show them the card!

Qatar's new 'football fan visa' comes into effect next week as one of the world's largest sporting events makes its presence felt in the region's airspace.

With under a month until kick off, Qatar Airways says it has pulled flights from 18 routes to make space for football fans coming to Doha for the Fifa World Cup.

The airline's CEO Akbar Al Baker says that Qatar's priority was to make room for the hundreds of daily inbound flights carrying soccer fans.

The airline is putting on 500 daily shuttle flights to football stadiums, expecting to welcome 1.2 million visitors over the month-long tournament.

"Our priority is not Qatar Airways' network but giving access to all countries participating and bringing in large numbers of passengers," Al Baker said during last week's press conference.

When asked if there would be any new routes added to bring in fans, Al Bakar said it was "Quite the contrary." They would be cutting services elsewhere to shore up the fan shuttle flights.

The airline did not comment on which routes would be reduced but Swiss Aviation reported that South Asian runways were the most affected, with flights to Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and India slimmed back.

Instead priority is being given to the 32 nations which have teams competing in the tournament.

Matchday flights are being brought in at a fixed fare of around $450 including on the ground transfer, for 24 hour turnarounds.

The shuttle flights from neighbouring Oman have been brought in to combat a shortage in accommodation options for fans.

The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy said the Gulf aimed to deliver up to 130,000 rooms in time for the tournament. Temporary accommodation in the form of cruise ships and tented villages in the desert.

Despite this, last month the BBC reported there may be a shortfall of up to 60,000 bed nights.

To make sure rooms are reserved for football fans, Qatar has introduced a new entry permit for fans.

From 1 November to 22 December entry to Qatar will be restricted to Qatari citizens and holders of a 'Hayya Card' entry permit. No standard entry visas are being issued during this period.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Travel is advising visitors going to see the Socceroos that all foreign nationals over the age of six must produce a negative Covid 19 pre-departure test result, valid from 48 hours before departure. Fans will also be required to use the local Covid-19 contact tracing app Ehteraz.

The Hayya Card is only available to World Cup ticket holders and family of ticket holders.

This will not affect transiting passengers who will be allowed to catch connecting flights out of Hamad International Airport. However tourists will not be allowed to leave the airport.


Posted by: AT 04:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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