Johannesburg, SOUTH AFRICA – Qatar Airways has reinforced its position as one of the fastest growing airlines in the world by launching two more routes this month with scheduled flights to Johannesburg and Cape Town, the airline’s first foray into South Africa.
QR580 from Doha, capital of the State of Qatar, touched down at Johannesburg International Airport early this morning before taking to the skies again for the short flight to Cape Town.
Qatar Airways operates four flights a week between Qatar and both cities in South Africa, using an Airbus A330-200 in a two-class configuration of 24 seats in Business and 248 in Economy.
The addition of South Africa takes Qatar Airways’ global network to 59 destinations. The new routes come just eight days after the airline began operating scheduled flights between Doha and Yangon, capital of Myanmar, in Southeast Asia.
The award-winning airline operates an all-Airbus fleet of 40 aircraft, with plans to double its size over the next few years following a $5.1bn order with Airbus for 34 additional planes. Qatar Airways is one of the launch customers of the A380 ‘super jumbos’ with two firm orders scheduled for delivery in 2009.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said the airline was spreading its award-winning Five Star service to a new market in South Africa to give passengers a taste of its excellent levels of service.
The airline’s revamped Business Class features seats with a 60-inch pitch and each converting into a two-metre long bed. Every passenger has 15-inch seat-back TV monitors and five pre-programmed electronic seat controls for take-off, eating, reading relaxing and sleeping. The seats also have back massage control functions.
Last year, Skytrax, the independent aviation industry monitoring agency, awarded a Five Star ranking for service and quality to Qatar Airways – only the third airline to receive the accolade.
“We are extremely delighted to expand our network to South Africa’s commercial hub of Johannesburg and one of the world’s top tourist centres of Cape Town,” said Al Baker.
“There are strong economic ties between the Middle East and South Africa and we are only too pleased to facilitate travel between the two regions.”
In addition to the winter 2005 flying programme, Qatar Airways has confirmed it will launch services to Osaka, Athens, Tunis and Algiers from summer 2005. By the end of 2005, the airline plans to serve at least 70 destinations, including cities in North America.
Qatar Airways currently serves business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Indian subcontinent and the Far East.
As one of the fastest growing and youngest carriers in the world with an average fleet age of under three years old, Qatar Airways has made significant inroads in the global aviation industry to become an award-winning airline in just a short few years.
Together with the Five Star award, Qatar Airways’ cabin crew were also voted best in the Middle East for the second year running and fifth best in the world following a Skytrax survey of more than two million passengers worldwide.
Qatar Airways was also ranked 8th best in the world in the inflight entertainment category. The airline is currently retrofitting its A330 long-haul fleet with a new state-of-the-art Audio Video On Demand (AVOD) system for passengers travelling in First, Business and Economy Class. It was the first Middle East carrier to install fully flat beds in First Class on its A330s.
The airline also became the first in the world to pass the new International Air Transport Association (IATA) Operational Safety Audit with a maximum 100 per cent compliance.
Qatar, which is located in the heart of the Arabian Gulf, is rapidly developing its infrastructure to help reach a goal of becoming the leading aviation hub in the Middle East. Last week, work began on the construction of the $5.5bn New Doha International Airport, which is scheduled to open in phases, beginning in 2009.
Qatar Airways will manage and operate the airport, of which 40% will be built on reclaimed land from the Arabian Gulf. The new facility is designed to shape Doha as a key regional and global aviation hub.
The new airport will be the world’s first to be designed and built specifically for Airbus’s new A380-800 double-decker ‘super jumbo’ – the largest passenger aircraft ever built. The A380 will be capable of carrying more than 550 passengers, with Qatar Airways being a launch customer, taking delivery of the first of its four A380s in 2009, the year the new airport opens.
US engineering and construction giant Bechtel has been awarded the contract to build the new airport, which will initially have a 26-gate passenger terminal complex, two runways, maintenance hangar, cargo centre and extensive shopping facilities when it opens in 2009 with an annual passenger capacity of 12 million. The figure will rise to 50 million passengers by the time the airport is fully operational in 2015.
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
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