Qatar Airways eyes UK e-commerce market

Qatar Airways is looking to get into the UK e-commerce market with the launch of QR Express. QR Express would use Qatar Airways freight services to move goods internationally while linking in with a third party courier to deliver goods the final mile.

In Qatar there is an 85% penetration of internet use but there isn’t much e-commerce use, with the Gulf country currently outlawing the use of debit cards for internet purchases and 14% of the population having credit cards. Currently Qatar Airways delivers goods in Qatar via FedEx, and with the launch of QR Express would do a similar deal with a ground operation in other countries, liveried with the Qatar Airways brand.

In the UK 20% of the non food shopping market is currently online, with e-commerce set to grow considerably in the coming years. As such QR Express would tap into a multibillion pound delivery market if it can get significant market penetration. Current estimates of the UK e-commerce market put its worth at over GBP £50bn a year, and the delivery business is dominated by DHL, UPS and FedEx / TNT as well as Hermes, Yodel and DPD for the domestic market.

In a company statement announcing the launch of the new venture, QR Express said that they would only aim at major urban centres in the UK such as Birmingham, Manchester and London initially, where the international freight company already has the infrastructure. Smaller urban centres such as Southampton and Bournemouth would not be looked at initially though may be considered at a later stage.

Ulrich Ogiermann, Chief Cargo Officer of Qatar Airways said of the plans, “We can’t do this on a worldwide basis all at once. We have to build up the expertise on the ground with the third-party provider.”