ITS slogan is “Going places together” and flies to about 150 international destinations across Europe, Asia, the Americas and Africa — including to Zimbabwe — operating a 200-aircraft fleet from its Middle East hub in the Persian Gulf nation and base at Hamad International Airport.
That’s Qatar Airways, the flag carrier of Qatar, an oil and gas-rich nation which hosted the Fifa World Cup last year in November and December.
Argentina won the World Cup. While Qatar usually goes places with its customers, Zimbabweans flying out of the country on Friday were not so lucky — they ended just across the Zambezi River while going overseas.
The flight from Harare to Doha, the Qatari capital, via Zambia, developed a technical fault and had an extremely bad landing in Lusaka. Passengers were stranded there for a day before they were booked onto Ethiopian Airways to proceed to various destinations.
The flight — QTR or QR 1456 — was scheduled to depart Harare at 12.05pm and arrive in Lusaka at 13.15pm en route Doha on a seven-hour 10 minutes journey. It however left Harare at 12.11pm and arrived in Lusaka at 13.27pm.
On its way, it developed a technical fault and passengers had a rough ride. The short flight to Lusaka was like a whole lifetime for the passengers. Upon landing, passengers were told in Lusaka that they were not proceeding.
The flight had developed a hitch and could not fly further. So they were booked into some Lusaka hotels and spent a day or so there as it doesn’t fly on Saturdays on that route anyway.
On Saturday, passengers were told they would hop onto Ethiopian Airways and change their itineraries going to different places around the world.
A Zimbabwean couple from Bulawayo going to the United Kingdom found itself stuck in the Zambian capital due to the aborted flight.
“The flight developed technical problems and then diverted to Lusaka, Zambian capital,” Zimbabwean academic Dr Admore Tshuma, who was a passenger on the flight, said. “We left Harare on Friday and only arrived in the UK on Sunday.”
Qatar flies between Doha and Harare via Lusaka. It officially opened its Zimbabwean office in Belgravia, Harare, in August.
The airline operates thrice weekly flights from Doha on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
While it always goes places with its passengers, on Friday Zimbabwean passengers found themselves going nowhere fast with Qatar! — STAFF WRITER.