In March, during the ITB Berlin Convention, Qatar Airways declared its intention to restart several international flights, including one to Argentina. The airline had been operating a daily flight between Doha and Buenos Aires since 2010, with a stopover in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo. However, the service was suspended in 2020 due to the pandemic.
According to news outlet Infobae, Ricardo Sosa, Executive Secretary of Argentina’s National Institute of Tourism Promotion, met with executives from the UAE’s Etihad Airways during the convention. They deliberated on the possibility of launching a flight between Abu Dhabi and Buenos Aires.
Sosa stated that Etihad had previously operated a flight to Sao Paulo and now perceives Argentina as a viable destination in the airline’s expansion plan. If implemented, this would mark the first direct flight between Asia and Argentina.
As per Infobae, Sosa’s meetings at the ITB Berlin Convention also included discussions with representatives from EgyptAir regarding the possible launch of a flight between Buenos Aires and Cairo.
Moreover, Spanish airline MasterFlights recently declared that it will operate direct charter flights between Cairo and Sao Paulo, utilizing EgyptAir aircraft. The initial flight is scheduled for September 4, with flights taking place every Monday for a year, and connections will be available to Amman, Tel Aviv, Dubai, Istanbul, and other Egyptian cities.
According to the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce (CCAB), talks between the presidents of Egypt and Brazil have included discussions of direct flights between the two nations operated by EgyptAir, and negotiations for an agreement with the airline are ongoing.
Arab News reported that according to Tamer Mansour, CEO of the CCAB, the agreement is on the brink of being finalized, following which it will require ratification by the Egyptian Parliament. Mansour expressed his optimism that this process could conclude this year. He further remarked that the recent announcements by Middle Eastern airlines regarding South America indicate an intensifying bond between the two regions.
Mansour went on to say that these new flights serve as evidence that the Arab world regards South American countries, specifically Brazil and Argentina, as crucial destinations for both tourism and investment.
While some of these routes were previously operational, they were suspended in the wake of the pandemic. Others are newly established initiatives driven by the belief that the volume of passengers and cargo traveling between South America and Arab nations will continue to increase in the years ahead.
According to recent data, Argentina’s exports to the Middle East and North Africa reached $8.6 billion in 2022. In the same year, Brazilian exports to the Arab world increased by 23 percent compared to the previous year, reaching $17.7 billion, which was the highest annual figure since 1989.
Mansour noted that Arab nations anticipate continued growth in the economies of Brazil and Argentina, and collaborative partnerships in various fields are already underway. He further commented that Sao Paulo is a significant business center for Arab executives, and the availability of direct flights facilitates their travel back to their home countries. In contrast, Buenos Aires is a well-regarded tourism destination for many Arabs.
Alfredo Abboud, secretary-general of the Argentinian Chamber of Commerce and Services for the UAE, informed Arab News that the 2022 FIFA World Cup held in Qatar had a positive impact on tourism between Argentina and the Middle East. Abboud observed that despite the media’s dissemination of erroneous views, many Argentinian tourists gained insight into the reality of the Arab world after visiting Qatar.
According to Agence France-Presse, the Argentinian Embassy in Doha estimated that 35,000-40,000 Argentinian football fans traveled to Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup tournament.
Alfredo Abboud, Secretary-General of the Argentinian Chamber of Commerce and Services for the UAE, anticipates continuous growth in Argentina’s trade with Middle Eastern countries, particularly in food products which the Arab nations view as a means of securing food supply.
He stated that discussions are ongoing for a potential cargo flight to Argentina operated by a Saudi airline. Abboud expressed hope that with increased flights, bilateral tourism would expand, leading to an increased number of halal restaurants and hotels in Argentina. He stressed the need for a state policy to develop an appropriate Muslim-friendly network, as there are currently few halal hotels in the country.