Paris, FRANCE - Qatar Airways has proudly announced it has been named Official Airline of the prestigious “Tour de France”, which attracts hundreds of cyclists competing in the world’s most famous cycle race.
Expected to be watched by over hundreds of millions of television viewers around the world and millions of spectators lining the 3,500km route, this year’s edition – the 98th Tour de France – takes place between July 2 – 24.
Leading international cyclists such as Tom Boonen, Frank and Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador will be competing next month for the coveted winner’s yellow jersey, eyeing victory in arguably one of the world’s most difficult races as it meanders through France before reaching the finale day along the Champs Elysees in the French capital.
Announcing the exclusive partnership with the Tour de France organisers at a press conference in Paris were Akbar Al Baker, Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Airways – the national airline of the State of Qatar – Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France, and Jean-Etienne Amaury, CEO of race organisers Amaury Sport Organisation. In attendance were legendary cyclists Eddy Merckx, of Belgium, and Frenchman Bernard Hinault, who each won the Tour de France five times.
As Official Airline of the Tour de France, Doha-based Qatar Airways will fly all competing cyclists from the French city of Grenoble to Paris Orly International Airport on July 24 before they disembark for the final stage of the race.
The airline will transport cyclists, teams and media on the special charter flight operated by a state-of-the-art Airbus A330 aircraft.
The grand finale each year takes place along the Champs Elysees in central Paris, where the winner crosses the finish line after covering a total distance of 3,471 km during the three-week race.
The sponsorship is the latest sporting initiative by Qatar Airways which has a long track record of hosting sports and cycling events such as the “Tour of Qatar” which takes place each year in the State of Qatar.
Addressing media at the press conference, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said: “Qatar Airways is delighted to support the world’s greatest cycling event and is proud to be associated with this prestigious international sporting competition.
“Qatar Airways has a strong affiliation with cycling both in Qatar and around the globe and our sponsorship of the Tour de France is an excellent way of reinforcing our passion for this sport.
“What better way to announce this partnership in a week when Qatar Airways was named the world’s best airline and now affiliated with the world’s most famous cycling event with both announcements right here in your beautiful city of Paris.”
The Tour de France is the third most watched sporting event in the world after the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup. Up to 15 million spectators are expected to be present on the race route with hundreds of millions watching the event on television, which is broadcast in over 200 countries worldwide.
Qatar Airways last year celebrated its 10th anniversary of flying to France and today operates 15-flights-a-week between Doha and Paris, and three-flights-a-week linking Doha with Nice on the French Riviera.
The airline operates a modern fleet of 98 aircraft to over 100 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.
By 2013, Qatar Airways plans to serve more than 120 destinations worldwide with a fleet of over 120 aircraft.
With seven routes launched so far this year, the Doha-based airline has a further eight to open by the end of 2011, including its first move into Canada at the end of the month, making it one of the world’s fastest growing airlines.
New destinations over the next few months from Doha are:-
- MONTREAL, Canada: June 29 Debut in Canada with introduction of thrice-weekly flights
- MEDINA, Saudi Arabia: July 14 4-flights-a-week – airline’s fourth Saudi Arabian gateway
- KOLKATA, India: July 27 Daily flights take airline’s Indian network up to 12 destinations
- SOFIA, Bulgaria: September 14: 4-flights-a-week strengthen Eastern European presence
- OSLO, Norway: October 5: 5-flights-a-week – airline’s third Scandinavian route
- ENTEBBE, Uganda: November 2: Daily non-stop flights
- BAKU, Azerbaijan: November 30: Daily non-stop flights
- TBILISI, Georgia, November 30: Daily via Baku
Qatar Airways has orders worth over US$ 40 billion for more than 200 aircraft, including Boeing 787s, 777s, Airbus A350s, A380s, A320 Family of aircraft and Bombardier corporate jets. 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. For more information on Qatar Airways, visit www.qatarairways.com
Qatar Airways Corporate Communications
Tel: +974 44496956, Fax: +974 44620132