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Qatar Airways Announces Direct Flights to Australian City Of Melbourne

Doha – Qatar: The Gulf’s fastest growing airline, Qatar Airways, has announced its firm intention to start direct flights to the Australian city of Melbourne from the Qatari capital Doha.

The announcement came following a high-level meeting in the Australian capital of Canberra between Qatar Airways’ Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Akbar Al Baker; and the Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. John Anderson, who is also the country’s Minister of Transportation and Local Services.

Mr. Al Baker, who is also Chairman of Qatar Tourism Authority, announced that the direct Doha-Melbourne flights are scheduled to begin at the end of this year.

The announcement has been welcomed by the Australian community, which is looking at the Qatari capital as a hub port to connect to European destinations, many of which are served by Qatar’s National Flag carrier.

The Australian Vice-President welcomed the intention of Qatar airways to start direct flights to Melbourne by the end of this year and said this would further boost the strong commercial, trade and economic links that the two countries currently enjoy.

"We are looking forward to the start of the direct link between Melbourne and Doha," said Mr. Anderson adding that: "We are anxiously following the tremendous growth that Qatar Airways has achieved, not forgetting its latest achievement of being categorized as ‘Five Stars’. Qatar Airways is one of three international airlines to win this classification.”

Promising Start

Mr. Al Baker, elaborating on his announcement, said that Qatar Airways will initially fly three times a week to Melbourne. “This is just the beginning and I am sure that the response will force us to raise the frequency in a very short period,” the airline CEO said.

He also pointed out that Qatar Airways will start using its modern state-of-the-art airplanes, Airbus A330-200 and A340-600, by the year 2006 right after receiving delivery from Airbus Industrie.

"We are giving the Australian market special attention. We realize the importance of Australia as a tourism destination on the one hand; and on the other, the huge potential to substantially increase Qatar-Australia commercial and economic ties,” added Mr. Al Baker.

Boosting Tourism

The Qatar Tourism Authority Chairman and Qatar Airways CEO was in Australia leading a high-level delegation from Qatar. While there, H.E Mr. Joe Hockey, the Australian Minister of Small Business and Tourism, received Mr. Al Baker and his delegation.

The Australian Minister was all praise for the decision to fly direct to Melbourne and stressed the important role that Qatar Airways will play in encouraging tourism between Australia and Qatar and the Middle East.

Mr. Al Baker revealed Qatar’s massive US $6 billion tourism master plan, which includes the establishment of several luxury hotels, world-class museums and other upmarket tourism projects.

"We are determined to put Qatar on the international map of tourism, and we are benefiting from the experiences of our friends such as the ones we have here in Australia," Mr. Al Baker said. He added that the gas-rich state has embarked upon several projects that will build the infrastructure foundation on which the country could launch efforts to attract international tourists.

Mutual Benefit

Both Australian and the Qatari officials agreed that working side by side would help increase tourism in both countries, apart from the obvious commercial and economic benefits.

Mr. Hockey referred to the important role that Qatar has played in successfully hosting the World Tourism and Travel Summit that was held in Doha recently. He added that it was, in all its aspects, a resounding success and that the successful hosting of the summit played an important role in recognizing Qatar as a major world destination.

Mr. Al Baker reaffirmed the emphasis and critical role that Qatar’s National Flag Carrier will play in promoting Australia as a destination to Qatari, GCC and Middle Eastern tourists as well as to those from Europe and North America who wish to travel to Australia for tourism or business.

The Qatari delegation was escorted by top Australian Government officials on a tour of the Parliament in Canberra, where Mr. Al Baker and his team met with H.E Mark Fille, the Minister of Trade and Mr. Danille Tihan, the Australian Government’s Middle East advisor.

Upon hearing that Qatar Airways was to start direct flights to Melbourne, the Minister expressed his happiness and referred to the award winning-services of Doha’s National Flag Carrier that resulted in its being categorized as ‘Five Stars’. “This shows the quality of service and we welcome it to Australia,” the Minister said.

Expanding Fleet

Mr. Al Baker briefed the Australian Minister that Qatar Airways is one of the fastest growing airlines in the world. “We have 32 planes now in our fleet and within six months, this number will go up to 38,” he pointed out.

The airline’s Chief Executive also revealed that the carrier’s ambitious expansion plan would see it expand its major destinations list to 70 by the end of 2005. “We currently fly to 50 major global destinations spread across Asia, Europe and Africa. We shall soon be flying to Australia and the United States,” Mr. Al Baker said.

In their talks, the officials discussed the recent successful visit of Australia’s Prime Minister of Victoria, to Qatar and the good impressions he brought back to Australia and delivered to his government.

H.E Mark Fille, the Minister of Trade, added that: “We are very happy that there are direct flights between Qatar and Australia because this will help in reinforcing the economic relations between the two countries."

Code Share Pact

Mr. Al Baker also held a meeting with the Australian Parliament Member Mr. Bruce Baird, who heads the Friends of Tourism Group in the Parliament. They discussed how to further encourage tourism between Qatar and Australia.

The Qatar Tourism Authority Chairman and Qatar Airways CEO spoke about the possibility of benefiting from the expertise of the Australian tourism experience and indicated that he could enter into talks with Australian carrier Qantas for a code share agreement.

The comprehensive tour of Australia also included a meeting between Mr. Al Baker and Australia’s shadow Minister of Transportation H.E Mr. Martin Ferguson. The meeting discussed measures to find a way of common interest in the field of aviation and transportation.

Mr. Al Baker hoped that three Qatar Airways flights a week would only be a start and hoped that this number would rise in a short period of time.

The Qatar Airways CEO and Qatar Tourism Authority Chairman led the Qatari delegation to Australia at the behest of the Friends of Tourism Group in the Australian Parliament.

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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