The launch of thrice-weekly services to Chongqing – the carrier’s fifth Chinese gateway – together with three new flights to Beijing and four extra frequencies to Hong Kong have significantly increased the Doha-based carrier’s operations in China.
The capacity hike has been introduced across the three cities over a two-week period taking the airline’s overall frequency across China up from 25 to 35 flights each week.
Qatar Airways launched non-stop scheduled services to Chongqing in south west China on November 28, just days after increasing frequency on the Doha – Beijing route to daily. Effective December 2, the airline boosted its daily Hong Kong services to 11 flights each week.
Qatar Airways also operates daily non-stop scheduled passenger flights to both Shanghai and Guangzhou, with dedicated freighter services to Hong Kong six-times-a-week.
Speaking at a press conference in Chongqing, Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said China’s economic growth was clearly a catalyst for the carrier to do more business in the country, already a strong economic partner with the State of Qatar.
“We have been closely looking at the opportunities that exist in this vast market to provide greater passenger choice and to give both business and leisure travellers more travel options to and from China, where many cities are largely underserved by international airlines,” he said.
“Chongqing is a prime example of a city, with its large industrial base and population of almost 30 million people, not having sufficient international air access that it so well deserves. By entering this market, we have become the only international airline flying westwards from Chongqing, giving easy one-stop access via our Doha hub to destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, North America and South America.
“With Chongqing’s strategic location on the important shipping waterway of the Yangtze River and being a production hub for motor cars, motorcycles, iron, steel, textiles, machinery and electronics, the city has huge market potential for new flights,” added Al Baker during the media gathering at the Sheraton Chongqing.
With additional services into both Beijing and Hong Kong, Al Baker said that Qatar Airways was stepping up travel options to and from the popular cities, further cementing its position as an airline of choice.
“We now have five cities on our route map across China, increasing the number of passenger flights from 25 to 35 each week, a significant operational increase in the space of just two weeks marking the end of yet another highly successful year in which we launched 15 new routes,” he said.
“It gives me great pleasure to be celebrating our expansion here in Chongqing, home to the iconic, magnificent Three Gorges.
“We look forward to developing our network further in China, which we believe has plenty more opportunities, particularly inland Chinese cities where demand for air travel is just as high as the traditional coastal gateways.”
The State of Qatar shares a strong relationship with China, based on established trade links. Qatar is China’s largest supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG) while exports from China to Qatar centre on mechanical and electrical goods.
Qatar is home to more than 6,000 Chinese nationals, of which over five per cent work at Qatar Airways – 330 employed at head office in Doha and almost 80 in China.
Named Airline of the Year 2011 by industry audit Skytrax, the award-winning Five Star carrier operates wide body Airbus A330 aircraft on the Chongqing route featuring up to 36 seats in Business Class and up to 248 seats in Economy.
During 2011, Qatar Airways inducted 15 destinations into its network. These include Bucharest (Romania), Budapest (Hungary), Brussels (Belgium), Stuttgart (Germany), Aleppo (Syria), Shiraz (Iran), Medina (Saudi Arabia), Venice (Italy), Montreal (Canada), Kolkata (India), Sofia (Bulgaria), Oslo (Norway), Benghazi (Libya), Entebbe (Uganda) and Chongqing, the latter becoming its 110th destination.
Passengers travelling to or from any of the five Chinese gateway cities can transit through Doha with convenient connections across diverse cities such as London, Paris, Moscow, Madrid, New York, Washington, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Dubai, Muscat, Kuwait, Johannesburg, Nairobi, Lagos and Entebbe.
2012 will be as exciting as 2011 with nine new destinations set to join Qatar Airways’ global network – namely, Baku (Azerbaijan), Tbilisi (Georgia), Helsinki (Finland), Zagreb (Croatia), Perth (Australia), Mombasa (Kenya), Zanzibar (Tanzania), Kigali (Rwanda), and Gassim (Saudi Arabia).
|The DOHA – CHONGQING schedules:|
|Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays||Depart Doha||QR848 at 0115 hrs, arrive Chongqing at 1305 hrs|
|Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays||Depart Chongqing||QR849 at 0100 hrs, arrive Doha at 0500 hrs|
Qatar Airways has orders worth over US$ 50 billion for more than 250 aircraft, including Boeing 787s, 777s, Airbus A350s, A380s and A320 Family of aircraft. The rapid expansion of Qatar Airways prompted the State of Qatar to embark on one of its biggest projects – the construction of a brand new international airport in Doha, which is scheduled to open in 2012.
Skytrax is the only global independent passenger survey monitoring airline standards and is considered the ultimate benchmark for excellence in the airline industry. In addition to winning Skytrax’s prestigious Airline of the Year 2011 award during the summer, Qatar Airways was named Best Airline in the Middle East for the sixth year in a row, and its Premium Terminal at Doha International Airport was named Best First Class Airline Lounge.