The Portuguese capital of Lisbon could serve as Qatar’s gateway to the South American market once the planned direct flights between the coastal city and Doha are finalised, according to a top diplomat.
Direct flights from Doha to Lisbon will open a wide range of investment opportunities not only in the tourism sector but also on the trade front, Portuguese ambassador Antonio Tanger emphasised.
“I see a great impact both in the touristic and economic relations because Lisbon is a hub to South America, which is why I believe that the planned direct flight between Qatar and Portugal is very important,” the ambassador told Gulf Times.
He added, “Portugal flies every day to certain destinations in Brazil and other countries in South America, so it can become a gateway, and Qatar can access these destinations.
“Also, Qatar Airways is already ferrying tourists from the US and Europe to the Far East and into Asia, and it’s now the right time to do the same with South America as a whole, and of course, our airline has privileged access to those markets, which is why it is very important as a business.”
In terms of bilateral relations, Tanger said the absence of direct flights between Qatar and Portugal is seen as a “barrier” that needs to be removed “as soon as possible.”
In the first two months of 2017, Portugal recorded a 30% increase in its exports, almost 55% of which were non-metallic minerals, textiles, and furniture. He stressed that for the coming period, the embassy will continue previously implemented initiatives aimed at increasing trade and bilateral relations between Qatar and Portugal.
Asked when the planned flights are expected to be finalised, Tanger said the decision of Qatar Airways “is just a matter of policy.” He also stressed that Portugal “is ready” and “is just waiting” for Qatar’s national carrier.
“One thing that would be very important is to start as soon as possible the already planned direct flight between Doha and Lisbon. It is something that Qatar Airways and Mr Akbar al-Baker had been saying that they are going to do it in the future.
“It is essential for the development of the both the countries’ business and human relationships that that flight exists. It is very important,” Tanger pointed out.
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