Travelers in South Florida will have more ways to reach the Middle East and then connect to Asia starting next year.
During the winter season, Qatar Airways is boosting the number of non-stop flights from Miami to Doha from 7 to 10 each week, starting Jan. 13.
Miami is one of five cities worldwide and the only one in the United States seeing an increase in flights by Qatar. The others are Bangkok, Amsterdam, Belgrade and Barcelona. Frequency will fall back to seven weekly flights after March 30.
The increase in flights comes just months after the carrier held a promotion for Miami-Doha travelers. Qatar Airways, which last year for the seventh time was named Skytrax’s Airline of the Year, started a fare sale on Sept. 6 that set roundtrip fares as low as $790 for certain travel between Sept. 12, 2023, and March 31, 2024. Travelers needed to purchase the ticket by Sept. 12, and Miami was one of six U.S. airports that participated.
Currently, a one-week roundtrip ticket in December is going online for as low as $1,137, according to a review by the Miami Herald. In January it drops to $749 although there was much variation, and many fares were over $1,400 even with 21-day notice.
Qatar Airways is adding service as Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava is visiting Tokyo this week to meet with executives at Japan Airlines and push for direct flights between Miami and Japan. Qatar, with numerous connections between Doha and Asia, could potentially cut into JAL’s business.
Importance of new Qatar flights
The new flights between Miami and Qatar connect to 36 new destinations, including Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Maldives, Singapore and Seychelles, according to the carrier. And because Qatar is a partner with American Airlines, passengers coming from the Middle East can connect to Nassau, Santo Domingo, Grand Cayman, St. Martin, Bogota, Quito and Cali. Qatar says it has a network of over 170 destinations on six continents.
The government-owned Qatar Airways increasing business in Florida is an economic boost for a Middle Eastern country with ties to Miami.. The nation held the last World Cup, won by Argentina and its top soccer player Lionel Messi, now a South Florida resident playing for Inter Miami professional soccer team. The United States hosts next year’s Copa America tournament and will be a co-host city in the 2026 World Cup. Qatar also sponsors the F1, which held a race in Miami Gardens in May for the second consecutive year.
But Qatar is also engaged in an extensive marketing campaign after worldwide criticism over how it treated mostly Asian workers who built World Cup stadiums and facilities. A 2023 report by the watchdog Human Rights Watch noted that “migrant workers in Qatar who helped to make the 2022 World Cup possible continued to face serious abuses, including unexplained deaths, injuries, unpaid wages, and exorbitant recruitment fees, despite labor reforms.”
Levine Cava, the mayor of Miami-Dade County, also visited Qatar in the first half of 2022 and met with Qatar’s environment minister Faleh bin Nasser bin Ahmed bin Ali Al Thani in a trip initially paid for by Qatar’s government, the Miami Herald reported on July 1, 2022. On that trip was her 2020 campaign manager Christian Ulvert, who also has a contract to provide public relations services to Qatar’s U.S. embassy, the Herald reported.
Now, in the Israel-Hamas war, Qatar has provided refuge for Hamas officials. Hamas, considered by the U.S. government as a terrorist group, was behind the brutal Oct. 7 attacks on Israeli civilians, killing more than 1,400 and taking hostages to Gaza.
New flight at Fort Lauderdale airport
The region’s second largest airport, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International, is welcoming new carriers.
On Thursday, airport officials, Visit Lauderdale and Broward County government officials joined executives from Canada’s Porter Airlines to inaugurate the carrier’s first daily nonstop flight between Fort Lauderdale and Ottawa and Fort Lauderdale and Toronto.
Touting itself as offering passengers an “elevated economy experience,” Porter’s airfares include beer, wine, wi-fi and snacks — and there’s none of those dreaded middle seats in the cabin.
Beginning Dec. 13, Porter will take off with daily flights from Miami International Airport to Toronto and back.
New routes and more service at Miami airport
The largest carrier at MIA, American Airlines, is flying to and from a record number of destinations. Delta is expanding. And United Airlines is adding flights over the Christmas holidays.
Other new flights include:
▪ Scandinavian Airlines — known as SAS, and the carrier of Sweden, Denmark and Norway — resumed non-stop flights from Miami International Airport to Copenhagen and Stockholm on Oct. 29.
▪ Finnair started direct flights between Helsinki and Miami in November. The three times a week service began Nov. 25 and goes until March 28.
▪ Barcelona-based airline LEVEL said it would begin three weekly flights between Barcelona and Miami on March 31, 2024.
▪ German low-cost airline Condor Airlines announced it would start flying three times a week next May between Miami airport and Frankfurt.
▪ In September, Norwegian discount airline Norse Atlantic started flights from Miami airport to London Gatwick four times a week and to Oslo two times a week. On Dec. 12, Norse plans flights from Miami to Paris four times weekly, and beginning Dec. 14, to Berlin once a week.