Houston, USA – Qatar Airways celebrated this week’s launch of its new Houston – Doha route by hosting a glittering gala dinner attended by over 400 guests drawn from across the entertainment, business, political, media and the social spectrum.
The Wortham Centre in downtown Houston was the venue for Tuesday night’s grand celebration of Qatar Airways’ first foray into the U.S. southern states.
The Qatar-themed event was a tribute to new direct air links between the global energy centres of Qatar and Houston. Qatar Airways launched daily non-stop flights between Doha and Houston on Monday – the airline’s third U.S. route – complementing existing daily services to both New York and Washington DC.
A VIP delegation from Qatar, led by Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker and Executive Vice-President Commercial Ali Al Rais have been in Houston for the airline’s launch celebrations attended by social, business and government officials, with Texas Governor Rick Perry among the dignitaries.
Country singer LeAnn Rimes, who wowed the crowd with a dazzling set of show-stopping songs, was joined by a number of entertainers, including the Arabic Byblos Band, Arabic henna artists, a group of swordsmen and belly dancers from the Gulf.
Miss USA 2008, Crystle Stewart, served as the Master of Ceremony during the evening, where guests were treated to a sumptuous menu of fine dining and hospitality in line with Qatar Airways’ high standards, while enjoying dynamic performances of song and dance.
Qatar Airways’ Executive Vice-President Commercial Ali Al Rais extended a warm welcome to guests, sharing his thoughts on the airline’s first new route launch of 2009.
“With great delight we have at last launched this new daily flight which will help forge and strengthen economic ties between Qatar and Houston, as well as the entire Texas region,” said Al Rais, addressing the packed gathering.
“Two-way trade between Qatar and Houston has increased by more than 340 per cent since 2003 and, at just under 17 hours flying time, Qatar Airways is able to facilitate trade between the world’s energy capitals with this great new service.
“But the relationship between Qatar and the United States goes well beyond trade and investment. Tourists, business travellers, and students are travelling in ever greater numbers, building partnerships, friendships and prosperity.”
Governor Rick Perry of Texas applauded Qatar Airways for its vital role in facilitating air travel between two key markets for both business and leisure.
“It is my honour and privilege to officially welcome Qatar Airways to Texas. With your new enture, Qatar Airways is building yet another bridge between two of our world’s energy capitals; a bridge to greater prosperity and deeper understanding between two dynamic cultures.”
Qatar is home to the world’s third largest gas reserves and is the world’s leading exporter of liquefied natural gas. With its abundant oil and gas reserves and status as one of the fastest growing economies in the world the new service will be of utmost importance to further boost the State of Qatar as well as the airline. Houston has the largest natural oil resources in the United States and is home to more than 5,000 energy-related companies.
Al Rais went on to speak proudly of Qatar Airways’ new 259-seat Boeing 777-200 Long Range aircraft flying between Houston and Doha, saying it offered passengers an experience of a lifetime. Unrivalled levels of space and comfort, including fully flat beds in Business Class, the aircraft also features an interactive in-flight entertainment system for all passengers offering more than 700 audio and video options.
Qatar Airways currently operates eight Boeing 777s, of which two are the Long Range variant dedicated to the Houston route.
The evening culminated with a grand finale raffle draw, with great prizes on offer. Guests had the opportunity to win Business Class tickets and hotel accommodation to destinations in Qatar Airways’ worldwide network.
Qatar Airways currently operates a global network of flights to 84 diverse business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, South Asia and North America from its Doha hub. The carrier flies a modern fleet of 68 Boeing and Airbus aircraft.
Doha-based 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 sixth year running in 2008 and the airline was voted Best in the Middle East for the third year in a row following a survey of more than 15 million passengers worldwide. For more information, log onto www.qatarairways.com
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 one of the customers of the twin-deck Airbus A380 ‘super jumbos’ with five on order and scheduled for delivery from 2012. Qatar Airways is due to move to the New Doha International Airport in 2012 when the first phase of the new facility is scheduled to open. For more information, visit www.ndiaproject.com
Qatar Airways Corporate Communications
Tel: +974 4496956, Fax: +974 4620132