Qatar Airways announced plans to add San Francisco to its network of U.S. destinations, plotting expansion just days after rival Emirates moved to reduce flights to the country citing President Donald Trump’s travel restrictions.
The Doha-based carrier will serve the California city starting in 2018, the company said Monday at a press conference in Dubai. The Persian Gulf airline will use Boeing Co. 777-300 aircraft on the route, which will become its 15th U.S. destination.
Qatar Airways has remained bullish on the U.S. even after Trump’s administration targeted travelers in the region with an attempt to block travel from six predominantly Muslim nations and a ban on carrying on laptop and tablet computers on flights from Middle East airports, including the carrier’s Doha hub. Dubai-based Emirates last week cited weaker demand caused by the restrictions as the cause for scaling back flights on five of its 12 U.S. routes.
While Al Baker recently told CNN that U.S. bookings dropped following the laptop ban, he called the decline “manageable.” Qatar Airways currently flies to 14 destinations in the U.S. including Orlando, Boston, New York and Washington. It introduced measures to counter the electronics ban by offering loaner laptops to premium customers on U.S.-bound flights, joining Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways in working around the restrictions.