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Middle Eastern carriers launch new routes, eye expansion

By control on July 18, 2011

Turkish Cargo has increased its presence in Hungary with the introduction of a new freight route to Budapest Airport. Signaling expansion in the Middle East, this announcement comes on the heels of Qatar Airways’ launch of four weekly flights to Medina, Saudi Arabia.

Turkish Cargo will fly between Istanbul and Budapest every week on an Airbus A310 freighter capable of carrying 40 tonnes. Prior to the launch of this route, Turkish Airlines transported cargo in the bellyhold of its passenger flights to Budapest, which recently increased to 10 per week. Therefore, Turkish Cargo is confident that this new route will boost cargo operations between the two cities tremendously.

Christa Soltau, vice president of cargo and logistics at Budapest Airport, says the addition of Turkish Cargo to its freight network was a strategic decision. “Our airport is playing an increasingly important role as a cargo hub for the central eastern European market and beyond, and the addition of this new scheduled freighter service marks another significant step in the airport’s expansion plan,” she said in a statement.

It looks like Budapest’s plan is working. Cargo tonnage for the airport increased by a whopping 30 percent in the first four months of 2011.

Although impressed by these numbers, Turkish Cargo General Manager, Hungary, Levend Arisoy hopes to contribute to even greater growth. “We’re putting our foot in the doorstep of the Hungarian cargo market with the introduction of the new nonstop, wide-body cargo service between Istanbul and Budapest,” he said in a statement. “Should the business develop the way we project, we’re ready to increase our frequency the same way we’re constantly increasing our passenger network.”

In related news, Qatar Airways will fly from its Doha hub directly to Medina, which is considered the second holiest city in Islam. The Middle Eastern carrier hopes to address the increased traffic to the city as Ramadan commences on August 1.

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker says this new service signals significant expansion for his company. “We are delighted to add Medina to our global route network, further strengthening our presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and clearly proving how important this dynamic market is for Qatar Airways,” he said in a statement.

“As the route to Medina develops, we will also look to add frequency and capacity to improve connectivity even further,” Baker added.

This new service brings the total number of routes launched by Qatar Airways this year to nine. The carrier also plans to begin service to Kolkata, India; Sofia, Bulgaria; Oslo, Norway; Entebbe, Uganda; Baku, Azerbaijan; and Tbilisi, Georgia in the upcoming months.

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