Travellers hoping to visit Qatar in the run-up to the World Cup 2022 tournament should book two years in advance, Qatar Airways’ chief executive advised in an interview this week.
“I would give you a very strong advice to plan at least two years ahead,” Akbar al-Baker, CEO of the airline, told The Independent.
Airlines typically put their seats on sale no more than 48 to 50 weeks in advance.
Russian President Vladimir Putin passed the mantle of World Cup host to the emir of Qatar at a ceremony in Moscow on Sunday, to mark the end of the 2018 World Cup.
The small Gulf state will hold the tournament in 2022, with FIFA announcing earlier that the tournament will be held in the winter months, to avoid blistering summer temperatures in the mostly desert nation.
Many travellers are likely to be impacted, with the World Cup season happening in the run up to Christmas.
Doha’s airport is normally busy during this period with connecting flights for British and European travellers.
Baker added that other airlines are likely to exploit Qatar Airway’s commitment to FIFA as the official carrier, and raise fares for such passengers.
“It will be a huge pressure on the airline, to cater not only for Fifa but also to cater for the passengers that will be travelling over the Christmas rush period.”
“You have to make sure you have enough money kept aside,” he added.
“Airlines will take advantage of this huge capacity of Qatar Airways that is taken away, concentrating for Fifa, that they will charge you extra to do your travels because there will be a shortage of capacity.”
The Gulf diplomatic crisis – which broke out in June 2017 after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE, along with regional power Egypt, cut off diplomatic ties to Qatar – has raised further uncertainty about the tournament.
The blockade imposed means that airlines such as Emirates and Etihad will not be flying to and from the Qatari capital.
The pressure on Qatar Airways, if the blockade continues, will be immense as the sole Gulf-based carrier. Room rates in Qatar are also expected to soar, alongside air fares.
British Airways charged around £1,000 ($1,320) return from Heathrow to Moscow for England’s semi-final against Croatia.
FIFA’s decision to grant Qatar the 2022 hosting rights has to date attracted considerable controversy.
One trade union group said that at least 1,200 migrant workers have died constructing infrastructure for the tournament, although this figure has been called into question by Doha.
Amnesty International has said the 2022 tournament is being “built on human rights abuses”.
Qatar has responded to criticism and said progress was being made to improve the rights of migrant workers, including a number of labour reforms.
Doha recently pledged to improve human rights for foreigners, by introducing a $200 per month minimum wage.
It has also pledged to give workers the freedom to leave the country and change jobs without their employer’s consent.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
Click here to post your own story!