Johannesburg, SOUTH AFRICA - Qatar Airways, one of the fastest growing airlines in the world, has taken South Africa by storm by unveiling the world’s largest-ever moving billboard to officially announce its arrival in the country.
The skies above South Africa’s major cities of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town were lit up in a Five Star aerial light display across the evening sky.
Five helicopters were used in each location to fly the ‘starry lights’ over the three cities in perfect formation, to highlight Qatar Airways’ award-winning Five Star service.
Qatar Airways, the national carrier of the State of Qatar in the Arabian Gulf, is one of only three ‘Five Star’ ranked airlines in the world, an accolade awarded by the independent aviation industry monitoring agency, Skytrax.
Launched just 10 years ago, Qatar Airways has matured into a vibrant award-winning airline operating a modern fleet of 40 all-Airbus aircraft to 59 business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Indian subcontinent and the Far East.
Last night’s spectacle, arguably the largest moving outdoor billboard in the world, heralded the launch of Qatar Airways’ scheduled flights between Doha, capital of Qatar, and both Johannesburg and Cape Town.
The airline operates four flights a week between Doha and both South African cities, using an Airbus A330-200 in a two-class configuration of 24 seats in Business and 248 in Economy.
Qatar Airways appointed Cape Town-based events company Teamworks to develop a concept to promote the arrival of the airline in South Africa.
“We literally decided to put five stars in the sky above Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town to herald the arrival of this new Five Star airline.”
Teamworks contracted a local aviation company to construct powerful light systems rigged to the under belly of each of the five helicopters in each city.
The helicopter pilots were briefed to fly in perfect formation above each city for 2.5 hours on the night of 28 January 2005, stopping to hover over various targeted populated areas for 3-4 minutes.
The display occurred simultaneously in each city and was designed to be clearly visible for many miles, and to arouse curiosity among millions of people who witnessed the event.
“We wanted people to look up and see these stars and start talking about them, to build up to the official launch and advertising of the airline,” added Pearce.
Speaking in Johannesburg ahead of a celebratory gala dinner tonight, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said he was delighted at the huge amount of interest shown by the South African public in Qatar Airways.
“Qatar Airways is spreading its award-winning Five Star service to a new market in South Africa to give passengers a taste of our excellent levels of service,” he said.
“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.
“We have developed a thriving business that has become increasingly noticed by rest of the aviation industry which can only watch and admire how we have matured in just a short few years.
“We are not an airline which stands still. We are innovative, reflected by the Five Star night, with a campaign that will reach millions of people. We are proud to have highlighted our Five Star campaign with an outdoor moving billboard that is arguably the world’s largest.”
Qatar Airways cabin crew were voted by Skytrax as the best in the Middle East for the second year running in 2004 and fifth best overall worldwide.
Key inflight features of the airline include a revamped Business Class with a 60-inch seat pitch and each seat 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 a back massage control function.
Qatar Airways was the first Middle East carrier to introduce First Class seat-cum-flat beds and features a new state-of-the-art Audio Video On Demand (AVOD) system for passengers traveling in First, Business and Economy Class across its long-haul Airbus A330 fleet.
Over the next few months, Qatar Airways is due to launch services to Osaka, Athens, Tunis and Algiers, with plans to serve 70 destinations worldwide by the end of the year.
Qatar Airways plans to double in size over the next few years and is one of the launch customers of the recently-unveiled twin-deck A380 'super jumbos' with four orders scheduled for delivery beginning in 2009.
Construction work began earlier this month on the $5.5bn New Doha International Airport with phase one due to open in 2009 to coincide with Qatar Airways taking delivery of its first A380.
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.
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
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