Washington DC, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - Qatar Airways' expansion into North America took another major step last night as the airline's maiden flight to Washington DC touched down at Dulles International Airport.
Flight QR 051 arrived in the US capital to a dramatic water salute ceremony from the local fire brigade following a 14-hour non-stop journey from Doha, capital of the State of Qatar.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker was accompanied on the inaugural flight by a high-level delegation of officials, including Chairman of Qatar's Civil Aviation Authority Mr. Abdul Aziz Al Nuaimi, Sheikh Abdullah Mohammed S A Al Thani Chairman of Q-Tel; and Middle East media. The flight was met in Washington by senior airport officials and local dignitaries.
They included Sheikh Ali Bin Jassim Al Thani, Charge d'Affaires, Embassy of the State of Qatar; the Hon. David N. Smith, Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade, Commonwealth of Virginia; the Hon. Gary J. Rasmussen, Council Member, City of Fairfax; Margaret McKeough, Vice President, Metro Washington Airport Authority; and Joan DuBois, supervisor, Fairfax County. The flight was also welcomed by Al Jazeera International news anchor Riz Khan.
Following the highly successful launch of flights between Doha and New York (Newark) last month, Qatar Airways has now launched its second route to the United States, bridging the capitals of both countries with the new services.
Award-winning Qatar Airways is the only airline from the Middle East operating daily non-stop services to Washington DC. The new service takes Qatar Airways' international route network to 78 destinations spanning Europe, Middle East, Africa, Indian Subcontinent, Far East and North America.
Speaking on arrival in Washington, Al Baker said he was delighted that the airline had spread its wings further into the United States.
"Three weeks ago, Qatar Airways took its first historic steps into the vitally important US market with flights to New York. This evening we are celebrating our second US route, with our new direct non-stop flights to Washington DC," he said.
"After being welcomed with open arms in New York, I feel extremely honoured to see the national carrier of my country here in Washington DC and be also be received to such a warm welcome. It's been a long time coming and we are finally here.
"Qatar Airways embarked on its long journey from Doha this morning to further strengthen our international network. It's wonderful to be received to such a warm welcome. I am sure we will help boost the tourism industry here by bringing in business and leisure visitors from around the world to experience the delights of this great city and the surrounding area," he added, addressing dignitaries at a special ceremony at Dulles International Airport.
"I would like to thank the authorities in both America and Qatar for making the Doha - Washington route happen, so soon after the successful launch of our New York flights.
"Our passengers from across the Gulf countries and feeder markets in the Indian subcontinent will have excellent onward connections across the USA via our Washington and New York services."
Both Washington and New York are the highlight of Qatar Airways' expansion strategy during 2007, which has already seen the airline launch services to Dar es Salaam, Lagos, Bali, Ho Chi Minh City, Chennai and Geneva. On November 27, the carrier launches services to the Swedish capital, Stockholm
The Washington route is operated with the state-of-the-art Airbus A340 aircraft in a three-class configuration of 8 seats in First Class - seats that convert into flat beds - 42 in Business offering generous space with 160 degree recline, and 216 in Economy.
The Premium Terminal features facilities including a spa, jacuzzi, exclusive duty free shopping, business centre, fine dining restaurants and cocktail bar. Built in just nine months, the US$90 million terminal is the world’s first commercial passenger building dedicated to First and Business Class passengers and offers departing and transit passengers an excellent opportunity to relax and unwind prior to their flight.
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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