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Qatar Airways Embarks On 2013 Expansion Drive With Launch Of New Route To Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia

Carrier Expands Network To Gassim Becoming Fifth Gateway In Kingdom

Frequency Across Saudi Arabia Rises To 65 Services Each Week

07 Jan 2013

Gassim, KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA – Qatar Airways today launched its first new route of 2013 with the introduction of scheduled services to Gassim in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

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Qatar Airways launched flights to the central Saudi city of Gassim early today. Pictured on arrival marking the new route with a cake-cutting are Qatar Airways Senior Vice-President GCC, Levant, Iran and Indian subcontinent, Fathi Al Shehab with Mohammed Al Majled, General Manager of Gassim’s Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz Airport, flanked by airline officials.

The Doha – Gassim route becomes the carrier’s fifth gateway in the Kingdom, joining already established and popular routes of Riyadh, Jeddah, Medina and Dammam. With Gassim, the number of flights to Saudi Arabia rises from 61 to 65 frequencies each week.

The award-winning Doha-based airline will operate four-flights-a-week to the central Saudi city, providing inbound travellers to the Kingdom with yet another destination to choose from, while connecting outbound travellers from Gassim will have a huge network of over 120 cities to fly to with Qatar Airways via its Doha hub.

The addition of Gassim takes the airline’s expanding global network to 123 destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.

Over the next few months, Qatar Airways will launch scheduled flights to a number of destinations including Najaf, Iraq (January 23); Phnom Penh, Cambodia (February 20); Chengdu, China (March 19); Chicago, USA (April 10); and Salalah, Oman (May 22).

Ringing in the New Year with the new route, Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz Regional Airport welcomed Qatar Airways’ inaugural flight with a water salute as the Airbus A320 touched down in the early hours of this morning.

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Qatar Airways Senior Vice-President GCC, Levant, Iran and Indian subcontinent, Fathi Al Shehab addresses guests on arrival in Gassim following the airline’s newest route launch to Saudi Arabia.

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said: “Saudi Arabia’s aviation industry has experienced unprecedented growth over the past few years and we at Qatar Airways are delighted to be part of this growth by launching additional capacity into this vibrant market.

“With increased government investment in the private sector and major infrastructure developments underway, we are very excited about our expansion here with the launch of our newest and first route of 2013 to the city of Gassim.”

The maiden flight carried an official delegation from Doha, led by Fathi Al Shehab, Qatar Airways Senior Vice President GCC, Levant, Iran and Indian Subcontinent.

Al Shehab said the new flight was a welcome boost for the travelling public to and from Saudi Arabia.

Speaking at the airport welcome ceremony in Gassim, Fathi Al Shehab said: “The introduction of our fifth destination within the Kingdom today is proof of the ongoing commitment by Qatar Airways to offer Saudi travellers across this great nation an unrivalled five-star service. Last year, we more than doubled our frequency to Saudi Arabia, an achievement we are extremely proud of.

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Qatar Airways Senior Vice-President GCC, Levant, Iran and Indian subcontinent, Fathi Al Shehab, pictured left, is presented with a commemorative gift by Mohammed Al Majled, General Manager of Gassim’s Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz Airport, following the arrival of the airline’s maiden flight to the city and first route launch of 2013.

“Today is a further example of the unique relationship our countries share and I am confident that by launching this new route, our award-winning hospitality will be well received by inbound and outbound travellers alike, linking the rest of the Middle East and beyond.”

As Saudi Arabia’s seventh most populated province with a rich cultural and historical heritage, Gassim is a city known for dates and its agricultural industry. Not only is it home to over six million palm trees making it the world’s biggest marketing outlet for the traditional Arabian fruit, but it is also stages the world’s largest date festival which, last year, showcased more than 200,000 tons of dates.

Gassim is located at the heart of the country, approximately 400 km northwest of the Saudi capital Riyadh, which means the wider catchment area in and around the central city connects to almost every part of the Kingdom with a vast network of highways being an ideal destination to access rest of the country. Visitors can explore Gassim’s ample leisure offerings, which include stunning desert landscapes, ancient pilgrim and trade routes, as well as numerous festivals and sporting delights.

The Doha – Gassim route is being operated by a state-of-the-art Airbus A320 featuring 144 seats in a two-class configuration of 12 seats in First Class and 132 in Economy. The aircraft offers seatback TV screens, providing passengers with the next generation interactive onboard entertainment system, featuring a choice of more than 800 audio and video on-demand options, together with an SMS text messaging service from each seat.

The convenient timings of the Doha – Gassim flights allow for good connections to key destinations across the Middle East, Europe, Asia and the Americas.

One of the world’s fastest growing airlines, Qatar Airways has seen rapid growth in just 16 years of operations, currently flying a modern fleet of 116 aircraft to 123 key business and leisure destinations worldwide.

The DOHA – GASSIM schedules, effective 7 January 2013 – Four-times-a-week:
Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays
QR760 Depart Doha at 0125 hrs arrive Gassim at 0305 hrs
QR761 Depart Gassim at 0405 hrs arrive Doha at 0545 hrs

Notes to Editors

Qatar Airways currently has orders worth over US$50 billion for more than 250 aircraft, including Boeing 787s, 777s, Airbus A350s, A380s and A320 Family of aircraft. In addition to winning Skytrax’s prestigious Airline of the Year 2011 and 2012, Qatar Airways was named Best Airline in the Middle East for the seventh year in a row, and its Premium Terminal at Doha International Airport was named Best Premium Service Airport for the second consecutive year in 2012. Skytrax is the only global independent passenger survey monitoring airline standards and is considered the ultimate benchmark for excellence in the airline industry. In October 2012, Qatar Airways became the first of the major Gulf carriers to officially announce plans to join a global alliance having been invited into the oneworld group. For more information, visit www.qatarairways.com

For further information

Qatar Airways Group, Corporate Communications Department
Tel: +974 44302072, Fax: +974 44302069
E-mail: qrmedia@qatarairways.com.qa
Website: www.qatarairways.com