Washington DC, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - Qatar Airways celebrated the launch of its new daily Doha - Washington DC flights with a gala dinner attracting the political and social elite from the US capital.
The Mandarin Oriental Washington DC was the venue for the night's entertainment featuring star billing, Bond, a quartet of young classical musicians known for their non-conformist style of performances.
Host for the evening, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker welcomed guests promising they would have a night to remember - and they were not disappointed. He thanked the US authorities for making the airline's newest route a huge success, just weeks after the carrier launched flights from Doha to New York (Newark) - its first move into the US market.
Guests at the gala dinner included former US Secretary of Defence William Cohen, former US Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, and the former US Deputy Secretary of the State, Richard Armitage.
They were kept entertained by a fantastic visual symphony presentation featuring imagery of Qatar Airways, its Five Star service and the airline's array of worldwide destinations.
Bond - four young female musicians from Britain and Australia - combined pop with classical music to round-off the night's entertainment.
The appearance of Steve Bridges, whose uncanny impersonation of former US President Bill Clinton turned heads at the packed event, made the evening a night to remember.
Master of ceremonies was the Emmy award-winning reporter Meryl Comer. She introduced a stellar line-up for the evening, including CNN International TV presenter and host of "CNN Business Traveller" Richard Quest. He spoke of Qatar Airways as the rising star in the aviation industry and welcomed CEO Akbar Al Baker, who spoke of his pride in bringing Qatar Airways and its award-winning Five Star service to both Washington DC and New York this summer.
Al Baker described the moment Qatar Airways flew into Dulles International Airport from Doha last Thursday night to be saluted by the dramatic water arch ceremony performed by airport fire fighters that traditionally greet inaugural arrivals.
"I am delighted that we have made our mark in the USA with two route launches within weeks of each other - New York and, now Washington DC. Our twin city launch marks the first step of the airline's expansion into the US market," he said.
"Tonight we are celebrating our inaugural services to Washington with this wonderful gala dinner which I promise will keep Washingtonians talking for a long time. Washington, thank you for welcoming us with open arms and we look forward to welcoming you on our flights and enjoy our award-winning Five Star hospitality.
"Qatar Airways plans to grow its international network further by exploring other route opportunities in the world's largest aviation market."
Qatar Airways is the only Middle East carrier flying non-stop daily to Washington Dulles International Airport, offering passengers from across the Gulf countries and feeder markets in the Indian subcontinent with excellent onward connections across the USA.
Al Baker added that Qatar Airways' new code share partnership with United Airlines would give the travelling public greater choice with more destinations to fly to across the United States.
The award-winning airline, currently in its 10th year of operations, now serves 78 destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Indian subcontinent, Far East and America with a modern fleet of 58 all-Airbus aircraft.
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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