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Qatar Airways Squash Challenge Moves To India

Doha, QATAR – The world’s leading female squash players descend on the southern Indian city of Hyderabad this week for the Qatar Airways Challenge, one of the biggest events on the WISPA (Women’s International Squash Players Association) World Tour.

After two years in Doha, the Qatar Airways Challenge moves to India for the first time, with the six-day event-taking place in the historic city of Hyderabad between July 4 – 9. The tournament is the third biggest WISPA event on the women’s international circuit with total prize money worth US$80,000.

The early rounds will be played at the city’s Secunderabad Club. But in an exciting innovation that is expected to draw crowds, the final rounds will be played in an all-glass outdoor court specially erected in front of the Falaknuma Palace, an historic building set on a hill overlooking the city of Hyderabad.

Millions of television viewers from across India and rest of the world will be able to see the tournament beamed to their homes as 40 competitors from 16 countries compete for the winning trophy.

Defending champion and former World Number 1, Rachael Grinham, from Australia, who is currently the World Number 4, will be travelling to Hyderabad in a bid to retain the title she won in Doha last year.

The event will also attract the current World Number 1, Vanessa Atkinson, from Holland, and Malaysia’s Nicol David, currently ranked Number 2 worldwide. Also competing is Rachael Grinham’s sister, Natalie, the World Number 3 and triple gold medalist at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne earlier this year.

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said the airline was delighted to continue supporting squash, a sport which is gaining huge recognition and reputation around the world.

“We are extremely thrilled to once again be hosting the Qatar Airways Challenge. After staging the tournament in Qatar over the past two years, we are pleased to be taking the event to India for the first time in the wonderful historic Hyderabad, a city Qatar Airways flies to four times a week.

“Qatar Airways looks forward to welcoming the world’s top women squash players for what promises to be an exciting event with excellent prize money on offer. Virtually all of the players will be flying to India with Qatar Airways and will experience our award-winning Five Star hospitality that we are renowned for around the world.”

Added Al Baker: “Our sponsorship of the WISPA event is integral to Qatar Airways’ strategy of using sport to help spread our message as a leading international airline.“

WISPA Chief Executive Andrew Shelley added: “This is an exciting development of our enduring partnership with Qatar Airways. It was always the intention to move to international destinations served by the airline.

“The event has already stirred immense interest and we haven’t yet started playing. The Qatar Airways Challenge is a major WISPA championship and the setting in India will certainly do it justice this year.”

Hyderabad, capital of the state of Andhra Pradesh, is India’s fifth largest city. Served four-times-a-week by Qatar Airways from Doha, capital of the State of Qatar, Hyderabad is one of the airline’s five destinations across India. Hyderabad is rapidly developing as one of India’s key destinations on the international scale due to its positioning as a centre for information technology.

India is a strategically important market for Qatar Airways. The airline currently operates 30 scheduled flights a week between Doha and five Indian destinations of Mumbai, Hyderabad, Cochin, Delhi and Trivandrum, with plans to boost its Indian network to other cities over the next few years.

Qatar Airways operates a modern fleet of 47 all-Airbus aircraft to 70 destinations from its hub in Doha. Together with its codeshare partners, Qatar Airways serves more than 90 cities worldwide.

The airline’s fleet will more than double in size by 2015 to 110 aircraft. Qatar Airways plans to acquire up to 80 new aircraft in orders worth US$16 billion to meet its expansion targets.

Qatar Airways is one of only four airlines in the world with a Five Star ranking for service and excellence awarded by Skytrax, the independent aviation industry auditor.

Earlier this month, Skytrax increased Qatar Airways global ranking to sixth best airline in the world in 2006, and named the carrier’s cabin crew as Best in the Middle East for the fourth consecutive year and second best in the world.

For further information on Qatar Airways, visit the website at www.qatarairways.com and for further details on the tournament with more squash news, log onto www.squashsite.co.uk

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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