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India Occupies Key Position In Qatar Airways Ambitious Growth Plans, Says CEO Al Baker

Mumbai, India : One of the world's fastest growing airlines, Qatar Airways, has identified India as a key element in its multi-billion dollar ambitious growth plans, a top airline official said here today.

Apart from supporting World Travel India as the 'Official Airline' the gas-rich emirate's National Flag carrier has taken up a 110 square metre stand, where it is showcasing the airline's history, culture and future plans as well as Qatar's rich heritage, tourism and economic might.

World Travel India is the Subcontinent country's first major international travel and tourism exhibition that is taking place in Mumbai from February 5-8, 2004.

"Qatar and Qatar Airways, both have very old and strong links to India. We treasure that and to show our commitment to the Indian market and to affirm the importance we place on our ties with India, we are here today before you," Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said to delegates at the accompanying forum.

He said the airline is very excited about its future growth plans in which India forms a critical element. "We promise you that our relationship will be mutually beneficial. We shall both draw upon our comparative strengths and pull together for a better future for both of us," Mr. Al Baker said.

Strong Commitment
As a show of commitment, Mr. Al Baker pointed to the resources the airline has put at the disposal of World Travel India. "It is important to us that we build on our already strong relationship with India and its people. We are very excited about playing a major role in this important travel and tourism exhibition. We are honoured to be one of the first Middle Eastern exhibitors to commit our support to this event with a large presence."

He pointed out that Qatar Airways has 28 services to India each week and is flying daily to each one of its four destinations: Kochi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Trivandrum.

"Qatar Airways acts as a link for travellers from India wanting to come and visit Qatar and the Middle East. We also bring tourists from Europe and the Middle East who want to explore the amazing sights of India," Mr. Al Baker said.

Upward Curve
Giving a background of the airline, the Qatar Airways' CEO said the young airline is moving rapidly on the upward curve and is now set to achieve greater heights.

"Within a short span since our birth, we have managed to add 48 major global destinations to our ever-expanding network. We added some ten destinations as diverse as Singapore, Shanghai, Vienna, Tripoli and Cebu in the last year.

"That trend is being continued well into this year with a target of serving more than 60 major worldwide destinations by 2005," said the Qatar Airways' CEO.

Mr. Al Baker revealed that immediate plans include the further breaching of the high-potential markets of Switzerland, Turkey, Egypt and Afghanistan over the next few months.

He pointed out that the four new destinations are just a precursor of much more to come from the young airline.

Tremendous Potential
Mr Al Baker said Qatar has tremendous potential, "His Highness the Emir, has a strong vision for our country. And, we are committed to fulfil that," he said while pointing to the recent agreement Qatar has signed with Bechtel to spend US$2.5 billion on just the first phase of a new international airport development which will open in 2008.

Qatar Airways is itself increasing the fleet to 52 aircraft in the next five years - and to 56 aircraft by 2011. It recently signed a US$ 5.1 billion order for 34 Airbus aircraft.

"Ours is, perhaps, one of the youngest fleet in the world. We shall receive an additional 13 aircraft this year to take the fleet to 38 aircraft by the end of year 2004," said the airline CEO.

"We are just on the threshold of a new beginning - for Qatar and for Qatar Airways. We welcome India to join us as a partner in growth," Mr. Al Baker concluded.

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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