Middle Eastern airlines move into Scandinavia

More routes may still be launched in the coming years

Emirates Airways recently announced it would open a new route between Dubai and Stockholm in September 2013. And, as reported this week, Qatar Airways will expand its Boeing 787 services to Europe with new Boeing 787 Dreamliners being deployed on three Scandinavian routes.
Pasi Hannonen, senior research analyst at Euromonitor, says that moves like these signal an increasing interest of the major Middle Eastern airlines in the Nordic market.
Qatar was the first to enter the market when it launched flights to Stockholm back in 2007. It then launched to Copenhagen in 2010 and then to Oslo. Emirates has been flying to CPH for almost two years.
Helsinki and Reykjavik are still not served by any of the “big three”. Helsinki is a smaller market and already has many direct destinations. Qatar had plans to fly to Helsinki last year but seems to have pulled back for the time being. It has been invited to join the oneworld alliance and oneworld member Finnair dominates in Helsinki. But it could still fly there.
For the rest of Scandinavia, the Middle Eastern airlines have their eyes on outbound Scandinavians. Although some Middle Eastern destinations are popular with Scandinavian tourists, such as Dubai and Doha, the hubs are used as connections for Scandinavians travelling to South-East Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, or Australia.
This means the biggest competition for the Middle Eastern airlines comes from Asian and Australian airlines with direct flights to Scandinavia, including Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines and Turkish Airlines. Norwegian’s new long-haul flights also give the Middle East some local competition. But there are still many untapped cities in the Middle East for new routes to Scandinavia, Euromonitor thinks. Etihad has no destinations yet in northern Europe. More route openings can still take place in the coming years.
[photo courtesy Emirates]