Kozhikode, INDIA – Qatar Airways today spelled out ambitious plans to expand its presence across India as part of a long-term commitment to one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker spoke of how the airline had grown its network across India over the years – the latest being yesterday’s launch of daily non-stop flights from the airline’s Doha hub to the southern Indian coastal city of Kozhikode.
Qatar Airways currently operates 58 flights a week from Doha, capital of the State of Qatar, to nine cities in India, including daily scheduled services to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Cochin, Trivandrum, Hyderabad and Kozhikode, together with a twice-weekly operation to Nagpur.
Addressing a press conference at the Taj Residency in Kozhikode today, Al Baker said the governments of Qatar and India had worked closely to forge a strong bond that ensured air travel between the two countries remained robust.
“Our countries have enjoyed a special relationship for many years – a relationship that has come to fruition with air access gradually being stepped up between the two countries,” he said.
“I would like to applaud the Indian government and its determined efforts to open up air access for Qatar Airways to more destinations across India and I am delighted that we are able to spread our award-winning Five Star service to yet another city on the global map.
“India today is by far the largest single market for Qatar Airways with a network of nine cities which represents more than 10 per cent of our global network of 83 international routes. We are eyeing up many more opportunities in this huge market and look forward to opening up further routes to give the travelling public to and from India more choice.”
Added Al Baker: “This week is an example of the tremendous energy that has gone into making our latest route a reality. Following on the success of our three route launches to Chennai, Ahmedabad and Nagpur during 2007, our latest addition of Kozhikode demonstrates our commitment to the people of India – and to the people of Kerala.
“An economic powerhouse rapidly developing its infrastructure across all industries, India is enjoying tremendous growth. Aviation is just one of the key sectors benefiting from such development and Qatar Airways is delighted to be part of this economic surge.”
He explained that the airline’s latest Indian route – Qatar Airways’ third gateway city in the southern state of Kerala – met the needs of Keralite expatriates living and working in the Gulf, and would appeal to tourists from Europe and across the world looking to unwind and relax.
Formerly known as Calicut, the city is Kerala’s third largest with a population of almost 500,000 people and is home to serene beaches, historic sites, lush green scenery and world-renowned Ayurvedic health treatments – a haven for holidaymakers seeking adventure and relaxation.
Qatar Airways offers an excellent choice of connections for passengers from Europe, Middle East, Africa and North America to India. The airline currently operates a modern fleet of 62 Airbus and Boeing aircraft to 83 destinations worldwide, including the Far East and Indian subcontinent.
Kozhikode is the airline’s second route launch of 2008, following the success of non-stop flights between Doha and the southern Chinese industrial city of Guangzhou launched in March. Starting November 10, Qatar Airways begins scheduled flights to Houston which, at 17 hours, will be one of the longest non-stop flights in the world operating from Doha.
During his media briefing, Al Baker spoke of Qatar Airways’ plans to take delivery of its third Boeing 777 aircraft this summer, which will be the start of an aggressive fleet expansion programme over the next few years with an average of one aircraft joining the airline every month.
Deliveries will include the airline’s first Boeing 777-200 Long Range version from November 2008, which will be capable of flying non-stop to any key international business and leisure destination from Doha.
Qatar Airways currently has outstanding orders for more than 200 aircraft worth over US$30 billion.
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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