Amritsar, INDIA – Qatar Airways’ maiden flight to the northern Indian state of Punjab landed in the holy city of Amritsar this morning just days out from the festive Diwali celebrations.
The flight from Doha – Qatar Airways’ operational hub – received a colourful and noisy send off as a troupe of Punjabi bhangra dancers provided a festive atmosphere at the boarding gate at Doha International Airport ahead of the inaugural flight.
Doha-based Indian leaders joined Qatar Airways senior management for the departure celebrations at the airport.
The launch also heralds the arrival of the only full-service scheduled global airline to the historic city in Punjab State.
With Diwali – the festival of lights – celebrated by Hindus and Sikhs around the world and falling this year on October 17, the arrival of flight QR 298 from Doha to Amritsar was a welcome sign ahead of the festive season.
The inaugural flight to Raja Sansi International Airport on the outskirts of Amritsar was packed with passengers heading to the city to celebrate the annual festival. The colourful city of Amritsar is home to the famous Golden Temple, the holy place of worship for the Sikh religion – a site that draws more visitors annually than India’s renowned Taj Mahal.
Qatar Airways passengers flying from North America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East to Doha have excellent onward late evening connections to Amritsar. The airline is operating the route four-times-a-week non-stop from Qatar’s capital city using a two-class Airbus A320, with 12 seats in Business Class and 132 seats in Economy Class.
Over the next few weeks, the idyllic Indian beach holiday destination of Goa will join the network from October 25, and flights to the Australian city of Melbourne are due to start on December 6.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said that the first Amritsar flight signalled the start of a new period of planned route expansion.
“These are exciting times for Qatar Airways with three route launches in less than two months, which demonstrates the robust growth we are still experiencing,” he said.
“Qatar Airways and, indeed the State of Qatar, have close ties with India which are today strengthening with the launch of flights to Amritsar. I am extremely indebted to the authorities in Amritsar for welcoming Qatar Airways with open arms to this wonderful, historic city.
“Amritsar is highly underserved by international airlines so we are pleased to be filling a void with our award-winning service to and from this highly popular destination in north India.”
Qatar Airways currently operates 60 flights a week between Doha and India – daily non-stop services to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Trivandrum, Cochin and Kozhikode. The addition of Goa will take Qatar Airways’ Indian capacity up to 64 flights a week.
Added Al Baker: “By bringing forward the launch date of Amritsar, we are able to meet the huge demand anticipated in time for the Diwali festive holidays celebrated by devotees of many religions, including Sikhism, during October. Amritsar is very much the spiritual and cultural centre of the Sikh religion.”
The two Indian routes are the first wave of destinations added to Qatar Airways’ route network over a four-month period, including the Australian cities of Melbourne and Sydney, and two further cities in Europe.
Qatar Airways currently operates a modern fleet of 70 aircraft to 83 destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, South Asia, Far East and North America.
| Doha – Amritsar schedules|
Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays, Sundays
Depart Doha QR298 at 2140 hrs, arrive Amritsar at 0355 hrs the following day
Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays
Depart Amritsar QR299 at 0455 hrs, arrive Doha at 0615 hrs
Qatar Airways’ Economy Class has been voted Best in the World in the annual Skytrax passenger survey, in which more than 16 million travellers were polled. Ranked Five Star for service and excellence by Skytrax, the independent aviation industry monitoring agency also voted Qatar Airways’ cabin crew Best in the Middle East for the seventh year running in 2009 and Best Airline in the Middle East for the fourth consecutive year. 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, 24 Airbus A320 Family of aircraft, 60 Boeing 787s and 32 Boeing 777s, with deliveries of the latter having started in November 2007. The airline has aircraft orders for more than 220 jets worth over US$40 billion and is one of the customers of the twin-deck Airbus A380 ‘super jumbos’ with five on order and scheduled for delivery from 2012, by which time the New Doha International Airport would have opened. For more information, visit www.ndiaproject.com
Qatar Airways Corporate Communications
Tel: +974 4496956, Fax: +974 4620132