London, UNITED KINGDOM - Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker has presented an insight on Qatar's integrated aviation, airport and tourism infrastructure during the two-day 4th Annual Qatar Finance and Investment Conference held in London.
The conference was attended by leading figures from Qatar's business community, as well as government ministers and officials.
Al Baker, who is also chairman of Qatar Tourism Authority, gave a detailed presentation on Qatar Airways' growth plans, an update on the status of the New Doha International Airport, and the country’s tourism development.
He said 2007 was a year of further growth for Qatar Airways with the launch of nine new routes across the airline's international network, with New York and Washington among the cities to be served this summer.
With diverse cities such as Ho Chi Minh City, Bali and Chennai being added to the network during March alone, Al Baker said Qatar Airways was increasingly becoming an airline of choice for passengers worldwide. He said Qatar Airways' brand new Premium Terminal for First and Business Class passengers at Doha International Airport had been well received by customers since its opening in November 2006. The Premium Terminal features a spa, jacuzzi, fine dining restaurants and exclusive duty-free shopping.
He said Qatar Airways' rapid growth over the years and continued expansion plans meant the airline would have a fleet size of at least 110 aircraft by 2015.
The US$5.5billion New Doha International Airport is well on schedule to open in 2009, explained Al Baker, adding that the two runways were taking shape and construction of the main terminal structure was well underway.
The new airport will handle up to 12 million passengers a year during the first phase – a figure Al Baker said Qatar Airways alone would easily exceed. Due to the dramatic growth of Qatar Airways and the country's economy, phase two of the new airport will open towards the end of 2009, having been brought forward from 2012, he added. Qatar Airways expects to carry 8 million passengers for the 2006/07 12-month financial year, ending in March.
Al Baker showed visuals of the latest construction at the new airport, which he said would rival any airport in the Middle East and, indeed in the world.
He said Qatar's positioning as an upmarket tourism destination was taking shape and well on target to achieve the projected visitor figure numbers of more than 1.5 million by 2010 – double the current level.
Qatar was developing lifestyle resorts and opening a host of new luxury hotels aimed at ensuring the country maintains its momentum of focusing on being an upmarket destination.
The number of hotel rooms is set to double to 7,400 during 2007 – up from just 3,700 three years ago. The country's newest hotel, Sharq Village & Spa is due to open soon, featuring upmarket spa facilities, said Al Baker.
He went on to explain that Qatar had generated tremendous amount of interest worldwide following the highly successful 15th Asian Games, held in Doha during December 2006, and that sport was firmly part of Qatar Airways' sponsorship strategy.
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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