From today, Qatar Airways will become the first Middle Eastern airline to fly to Botswana. The carrier will fly to Gaborone via Johannesburg from Doha. Operated by an A350-900, it will make Qatar the first non-African airline to fly into the nation.
Speaking during the original announcement about the flights, CEO Akbar Al Baker said,
“We are excited to be launching three-weekly flights to Gaborone, another highly sought after destination in Africa. Qatar Airways is committed to growing our presence in Africa and adding to the 22 destinations in 15 countries we already offer.
Our new service to the enchanting city of Gaborone will enable us to provide a seamless journey to and from Botswana, for passengers connecting from our extensive network of more than 160 destinations worldwide.”
The Qatar Airways flight schedule
Qatar will operate three times a week service between Doha and Gaborone via Johannesburg, South Africa. The schedule looks like this:
- Doha to Johannesburg departs DOH at 06:55, arrives JNB at 14:50.
- Johannesburg to Gaborone departs JNB at 15:55, arrives GBE at 16:50
- Gaborone to Johannesburg departs GBE at 18:35, arrives JNB at 19:30
- Johannesburg to Doha departs JNB at 20:40, arrives DOH at 06:35 (+1 day)
The flights will operate on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The route will be serviced by Qatar’s A350-900, with an average age of just 2.3 years. These aircraft feature Qatar’s renowned QSuites in business class, with modular arrangements allowing for double beds for couples and complete privacy as required.
The flight is not a fifth freedom flight, therefore Qatar will not be allowed to transport passengers just between Johannesburg and Gaborone; only passengers on the full Doha itinerary will be on the plane.
Who else flies to Gaborone?
The main airport for Botswana is Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (GBE), located around seven miles from the capital of Gaborone. Although it’s far away from the popular tourist parks in the north, it is the only airport in the country set up to handle international air traffic and is the logical arrival point for any foreign flight.
Right now, five other carriers operate services to and from the airport. These are Air Botswana, Air Namibia, South African Airlink, Ethiopian Airlines and South African Express. As such, Qatar will be the first foreign airline to fly into Gaborone, making it easier for tourists to access the country.
Most tourists will wish to begin their adventures at either Maun Airport (MUB) or Kasane Airport (BBK). Once in Gaborone, both these destinations are easy to connect to with daily flights to both.
For tourists arriving from other parts of the world, the usual method of entry into Botswana means heading to a major hub such as Johannesburg and then finding a connecting flight. Clearly, a direct connection from Doha will make life a lot easier, requiring only one domestic connection to get to the tourism hotspots.
Botswana is a growing nation, and Gaborone a rapidly expanding city. Last year, the nation’s tourism sector grew by 3.4%, and Botswanan President Mokgweetsi Masisi thinks that the arrival of Qatar will help the country do even better this year. Quoted by Xinhua, Masisi said,
“…our tourism sector will surpass the achievement attained last year by at least 1.5 percent because it will be easy to travel for tourists,”