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Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Briefs Bahrain Media On Global Growth Plans

Manama, BAHRAIN – Qatar Airways is promoting its award-winning services at the Bahrain International Travel Expo (BITE) this week with Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker heading a delegation of officials from corporate headquarters in Doha to the event.

It is the first time that Qatar Airways is participating at BITE – now in its second year. The event, which takes place at the Bahrain International Exhibition Centre between May 9 – 11, attracts airlines, hotels, car rental companies and tourist boards from around the world, together with travel agents and tour operators.

Addressing a media gathering in Bahrain today on the eve of the three-day show, Al Baker spoke of the importance of the Bahrain market to Qatar Airways.

With a frequency of 37 flights a week between Bahrain and Doha, he said Qatar Airways had a strategy to develop high frequency services between neighbouring markets and the Qatari capital to offer the travelling public with a large choice of convenient connections.

The Doha – Bahrain route is operated with a mixture of A320s and A330s offering passengers the best levels of comfort and service, with excellent onward connections to Europe, Middle East, Africa, Indian subcontinent and Far East. Qatar Airways’ current global network covers 70 destinations.

Al Baker said Qatar Airways was adopting a strategy of boosting its international network through new routes and additional frequency. The airline has increased capacity on key routes in recent weeks, including London Heathrow, Manchester, Paris, Madrid, Rome, Athens and Manila. Capacity to Frankfurt, Bangkok and Osaka is being increased this summer.

He added added that Qatar Airways’ meteoric rise since its relaunch in 1997 has turned it into one of the world’s fastest growing airlines. He described how Qatar Airways had made significant inroads in the aviation industry to become an award-winning airline in just a short few years.

He outlined the company’s vision to become a key player in global aviation. With a fleet of 46 modern all-Airbus aircraft, he told the media that the airline will almost triple its size to 110 jets by 2015. The airline is investing around US$16billion in new aircraft.

Al Baker gave the media an insight into the revolutionary First Class interiors of Qatar Airways’ new Airbus A340-600 aircraft, scheduled for delivery this summer. Qatar Airways is introducing the onboard premium lounge giving passengers an opportunity to relax and unwind in the comfort of an exclusive section of the aircraft at 35,000ft.

Epitomizing luxury and innovation, the new First Class lounge promises to be one of the best in the air when it takes to the skies this summer.The aircraft will be capable of flying non-stop from Doha to destinations as far afield as North America.

The move coincides with Qatar Airways unveiling its brand new livery, which will be on the first A340. The word ‘QATAR’ will be emblazoned across the fuselage in large bold burgundy-coloured letters and the tail fin painted with an image of the Oryx, national animal and icon of Qatar. The changes – the first since the airline’s relaunch in 1997 – reflect the confidence of Qatar Airways, moving from a small regional player of just nine years ago to a full-service award-winning international carrier.

Al Baker explained that the new livery will be progressively introduced on other aircraft as they are delivered, while the existing fleet of 46 aircraft will be repainted over a 12-month period.

Aimed at taking Qatar Airways into a new era of air travel, he also briefed the gathering on the world’s only dedicated terminal for First and Business Class passengers which is due to open at Doha International Airport this summer.

The terminal will feature innovative facilities to provide its most loyal customers with the best levels of comfort and hospitality prior to catching their flight. Passengers travelling in First and Business Class with Qatar Airways will be able to enjoy a hassle-free experience from the time they check-in to departure.

Al Baker said passengers would be able to take advantage of new self-service check-in kiosks, dedicated e-gates to speed up immigration formalities, First and Business Class lounges with their own dedicated dining areas, duty-free shopping, a spa, jacuzzi, sauna and business centre with secretarial services.

He also briefed the media on the current state of the US$5.5 billion New Doha International Airport, of which construction began in January 2005 and was on schedule to open in 2009.

He described how the new airport would be an architectural marvel, and the first in the world to be designed and built specifically for Airbus’s new A380-800 double-decker ‘superjumbo’ – the largest passenger aircraft ever built. The A380 will be capable of carrying more than 550 passengers, with Qatar Airways a launch customer taking delivery of the first of its four A380s in 2009, the year the new airport opens.

With Qatar Airways being a key sponsor of the Asian Games in Doha at the end of the year, Al Baker said the airline will spend the next six months focusing on promoting the event across its international network.

Doha-based Qatar Airways will operate a fleet of 110 aircraft by 2013 – almost double the existing size. Qatar Airways has ordered 80 Airbus A350s, 60 Boeing 787s and 32 Boeing 777s, with deliveries of the latter having started in November 2007. The airline is a launch customer of the twin-deck Airbus A380 ‘super jumbos’ with five aircraft on order and scheduled for delivery from 2010. Qatar Airways moves to the New Doha International Airport in 2010, when the first phase of the new facility opens. For more information, visit www.ndiaproject.com

Qatar Airways is one of only six airlines in the world with a Five Star ranking for service and excellence awarded by Skytrax, the independent aviation industry monitoring agency. Skytrax also named Qatar Airways’ cabin crew as Best in the Middle East for the fifth year running in 2007 following a survey of more than 15 million passengers worldwide. For more information, log onto www.qatarairways.com

Qatar Airways Corporate Communications
Tel: +974 4496956, Fax: +974 4620132
E-mail: qrmedia@qatarairways.com.qa

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