ITB Berlin, GERMANY – Qatar Airways today announced plans to launch scheduled flights to Australia and further expand its operations in India and Europe with new routes from the start of the Northern Winter 2009 schedules.
Flights to the Australian cities of Sydney and Melbourne, together with new services to Goa and Amritsar in India, and two new European services are being earmarked over the next nine months.
In addition, the Doha-based carrier will increase frequency to selected destinations across its global network from the beginning of the Northern Summer 2009 schedules on March 29. The expansion was announced today at ITB Berlin, the world’s largest travel and tourism show being held in the German capital this week.
Subject to regulatory approval, the long-awaited Australian services will become reality as more Boeing 777-200 Long Range aircraft join the fleet. There are currently eight Boeing 777s in Qatar Airways’ fleet of 68 aircraft – of which two are the Boeing 777 Long Range version capable of flying from Doha to Australia non-stop.
Amritsar, located in the rich northwestern Indian agricultural heartland of Punjab State, is home to the Golden Temple – the spiritual and cultural centre of the Sikh religion. Together with the popular idyllic beach holiday state of Goa, the two new routes will boost Qatar Airways’ Indian capacity from nine to 11 destinations.
Qatar Airways will also step up its European presence with two new routes, which are currently being finalised. Details will be announced in due course. The airline’s first new route launch of 2009 will be daily flights between Doha and Houston which, at just under 17 hours, will be one of the longest non-stop flights in the world.
Beginning March 30, the Houston route will feature Qatar Airways’ new fully flat Business Class seats deployed on its two Boeing 777-200 Long Range aircraft, which the airline took delivery of over the past six weeks.
The expansion is part of the airline’s ongoing growth strategy – a long-term commitment to develop its route infrastructure as new aircraft join the fleet at an average delivery rate of one a month.
The award-winning Doha-based airline currently has on order more than 200 new Airbus and Boeing aircraft worth over US$40 billion.
“Qatar Airways’ robust expansion is continuing undeterred by the current economic climate,” said Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker, addressing a packed press conference on the opening day of ITB Berlin.
“Sydney and Melbourne have been on our radar screen for many years. We can finally look forward to entering the Australian market with vigour as we will have the aircraft to serve this highly popular market non-stop from Doha.
“India has been, and remains, one of our most important destinations and we are pleased to be strengthening economic and cultural ties with one of the world’s fastest growing economies. With the growth of the Indian economy into a potential global powerhouse and Qatar's drive to spread its economic wings globally, increasing air links between the two countries is of paramount importance.”
Qatar Airways currently operates 58 flights a week to nine cities across India – daily to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Cochin, Ahmedabad, Trivandrum, Hyderabad, Kozhikode and twice-weekly to Nagpur.
Al Baker said Europe was strategically important for Qatar Airways, highlighting the need to widen its market presence with the addition of two new routes over the next nine months.
“Our tremendous growth is part of a long-term strategy to significantly build up our portfolio of routes and fleet size,” he added.
“Qatar Airways continually identifies new opportunities around the world to better serve the travelling public and is able to easily shift capacity according to market conditions. As a network hub airline, Qatar Airways does not rely on traffic from any specific markets, so we are largely immune from the circumstances surrounding the current global economic meltdown"
"With new aircraft joining our fleet at an incredible rate of one a month for the foreseeable future, we are confident going forward, able to consolidate our position by increasing frequency on existing routes and introducing new routes to give passengers greater choice.
“Qatar Airways is well poised to face the challenges ahead. We have a long-term vision demonstrated by today’s announcement to build on our highly successful young operation – a remarkable feat for an airline which launched just 12 years ago.”
In addition to the route expansion, Qatar Airways is gradually stepping up capacity from March 29 to eight cities – Geneva, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Lagos, Muscat, Mashad (Iran), Tunis and Algiers. The frequency increases will see the Philippines capital of Manila being served with two daily flights, up from the current 11 services a week; Nigeria’s commercial capital of Lagos going from five services a week to daily; and capacity to the Omani capital of Muscat rising from 15 to 21 flights a week.
Qatar Airways currently operates a modern fleet of 68Airbus and Boeing aircraft to 83 diverse business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, South Asia, Far East and North America.
With the opening of the New Doha International Airport scheduled for 2012, Qatar Airways plans to increase its global network to beyond 100 cities worldwide.
Highlights Of Qatar Airways’ 2009 Capacity Increases:-
|Non-Stop from Doha:- |
Houston – new route launch DAILY from March 30
Geneva– up from 4 to 5 flights a week from March 29
Lagos– up from 5 to 7 flights a week (DAILY) from March 29
Manila– up from 11 to 14 flights a week (DOUBLE DAILY) from March 29
Muscat – up from 15 to 21 flights a week from March 29
Mashad – up from 3 to 5 flights a week from March 29
Kuala Lumpur– up from 7 to 10 flights a week from June 1
Algiers– up from 4 to 6 flights a week from October 1
Tunis– up from 4 to 5 flights a week from October 5
Qatar Airways will operate a fleet of 110 aircraft by 2013 – almost double the existing size. The airline 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. At the Farnborough Air Show in 2008, the airline also ordered six Airbus A321s. 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 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
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