Qatar Airways has continued its steady expansion into Africa with the launch of services to Asmara, the Eritrean capital and the airline’s 12th new destination this year, providing two weekly flights connecting passengers to Doha and onwards to more than 140 destinations.

“Qatar Airways is proud to be the first five-star airline to launch non-stop flights to Asmara — another example of Qatar Airways’ commitment to opening up access to markets that we believe have great potential,” said Marwan Koleilat, chief commercial officer, Qatar Airways.

“On behalf of our Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, I would like to offer my sincere thanks to the government officials, airport authorities and the travel trade here in Asmara, all of whom have been tremendously supportive of this new service.”

Strategically located by the Red Sea, the economy of Eritrea has experienced considerable growth in recent years by capitalized on its extensive deposits of natural resources. More recently, however, Asmara has been opened up to tourism as a city steeped in rich culture and architecture.

Qatar and of Eritrea have enjoyed a cordial relationship of diplomatic and economic collaboration for some time, and Doha is well placed to participate in the country’s growth.

“Our service to Eritrea opens doors to even stronger business ties and supports greater commercial development with the international business community,” Koleilat concurred.

In a recent business link, November witnessed QKR Corporation, a mining fund backed by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund hold discussions on a possible $1bn bid for Canada’s Nevsun Resources, which owns 60% of the Bisha gold, copper and zinc mine in Eritrea in East Africa.

Qatar’s QKR approaches Eritrean mining interest Nevsun Resources

The same month, Qatar Airways also launch flights to Djibouti – the first by a flag and mainstream Gulf carrier – with thrice-weekly flights to Ambouli International Airport.

At the time, Koleilat noted that, “Djibouti is still underserved by international airlines despite the huge potential of its untapped natural resources and tourist opportunities.”

As with Eritrea, tourism is a growing sector in Djibouti, and currently draws anywhere between 40,000 and 53,000 leisure travellers a year – the majority of them from Europe.

Qatar Airways launches first Gulf airline flights to Djibouti