Dubai, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Qatar Airways today announced a further expansion of its international route network with Uganda, Azerbaijan and Georgia joining its ever-growing list of countries served direct from the airline’s Doha hub.
Daily non-stop scheduled flights to Uganda’s second largest city of Entebbe are due to begin on November 2, marking the carrier’s first new route to the African continent since early 2007.
Four weeks later, effective November 30, Qatar Airways expands into Central Asia introducing daily non-stop flights to Baku which continue onto Tbilisi, the capital cities of Azerbaijan and Georgia respectively.
Today’s announcement comes as the Doha-based carrier prepares for a busy few months ahead with the launch of scheduled flights to Shiraz, Venice and Montreal in June; Kolkata (Calcutta) in July; Sofia in September and Oslo in October.
Unveiling the expansion plans in Dubai today, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said the new routes further demonstrated the airline’s ambitious strategy to continue opening up new routes to popular and underserved markets.
Uganda is fast emerging as a regional trading centre with links to Europe and the Far East, but has limited international air services – a void Qatar Airways is set to fill with its huge international network of routes via its Doha base.
Qatar Airways will be the only full-service Gulf carrier flying to the oil-rich city of Baku, becoming a natural fit for the airline linking up with the State of Qatar, the energy capital of the Middle East. Baku’s largest industry is petroleum. Located on the Caspian Sea, the walled city of Baku has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Tbilisi is a significant industrial, social and cultural hub, emerging as an important transit route for global energy and trade projects and located strategically at the crossroads between Europe and Asia lying along the historic Silk Road routes.
The three newest routes will be operated with Airbus A320 aircraft in a two-class configuration of 12 seats in Business Class and 132 in Economy.
Addressing a press conference in Dubai on the opening day of Arabian Travel Market (ATM), the Middle East’s premier travel trade show, Al Baker said Uganda, Azerbaijan and Georgia were markets largely underserved by international carriers.
“But there is clearly demand and huge potential and, as a network global carrier, we are able to fulfil the needs of the travelling public from these three countries and for those wanting to travel there from markets we serve around the world.
“Qatar Airways already has a successful operation to the Russian capital Moscow. Expanding our presence deeper into Central Asia has been a focus of ours for some time so it is with extreme delight to be able to announce we will soon have new routes to add in this part of the world.
“And we are pleased to be reinforcing our presence in Africa, four years after our last move there when we launched flights to Tanzania’s capital city of Dar es Salaam. Adding Entebbe provides us with another foothold deeper into the African continent, where we already serve 15 destinations. We are confident this route start-up will be as successful as the others being planned.”
In January this year, the airline embarked on the first phase of its 2011 expansion programme launching flights to Bucharest, Budapest and Brussels during a single month alone. All three of these European routes had little or no capacity from the Middle East and their launch fitted nicely into our set strategy, explained Al Baker.
With the start of flights to Stuttgart in March and the Syrian city of Aleppo becoming the carrier’s 100th destination last month, Qatar Airways is gearing up for a busy summer ahead of further launches and capacity increases to a number of existing destinations.
June marks the launch of three routes – Iranian city of Shiraz (June 5), the carrier’s third city in Iran; Adriatic coastline city of Venice (June 15) becoming the airline’s third Italian gateway; and Montreal (June 29) being Qatar Airways’ first move into Canada with thrice-weekly flights non-stop from Doha.
July 27 marks the launch of daily flights to Kolkata (Calcutta), the carrier’s 12th Indian point.
Beginning September 14, Qatar Airways strengthens its Eastern European presence with flights to the Bulgarian capital Sofia. And from October 5, the airline builds on its successful operations in Scandinavia with the start of five-flights-a-week to Norway’s capital city of Oslo. Qatar Airways, which already flies to Copenhagen and Stockholm, has the largest number of flights from the Gulf to Scandinavia.
The new routes complement a raft of capacity increases with additional flights across the airline’s global network during the summer schedules, including Guangzhou, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Manchester, Dar Es Salaam, Geneva, Copenhagen, Istanbul and Paris.
Added Al Baker: “As we take delivery of more aircraft, we will quickly induct them into service and constantly look at new opportunities to give the travelling public more travel options, more choice and more flexibility.”
The airline’s Doha hub feeds passenger and cargo traffic to all parts of the world, offering convenient connections across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.
Qatar Airways currently serves 100 diverse business and leisure cities worldwide with a modern fleet of 97 aircraft.The airline plans to serve more than 120 destinations with a fleet of over 120 aircraft by 2013.
Qatar Airways’ 2011 expansion highlights are:-
- SHIRAZ, June 5: Twice-weekly flights – carrier’s third destination in Iran
- VENICE, June 15: Daily non-stop flights take Italian network up to three cities
- MONTREAL, June 29: Airline’s debut in Canada with introduction of thrice-weekly flights
- MEDINA, July 14: 4-flights-a-week to the airline’s fourth Saudi Arabia gateway
- KOLKATA, July 27: Daily flights take airline’s Indian network up to 12 destinations
- SOFIA, September 14: 4-flights-a-week strengthen Eastern European presence
- OSLO, October 5: 5-flights-a-week – airline’s third Scandinavian route
- ENTEBBE, November 2: Daily non-stop flights
- BAKU, November 30: Daily non-stop flights
- TBILISI, November 30: Daily via Baku
- BENGALURU, March 1: replacing narrow-body aircraft with wide-body Airbus A330
- MUNICH, March 9: 7 to 11 flights a week
- FRANKFURT, March 27: 10 to 14 flights a week; (double daily). Boeing 777 on some flights
- BARCELONA, March 27: replacing narrow-body aircraft with wide-body Airbus A330
- KUALA LUMPUR, March 27: 11 to 14 flights a week (double daily), phased from March to Oct
- DAR ES SALAAM, March 27: 12 to 14 flights a week (double daily)
- MUSCAT, March 27: 21 to 24 flights a week
- KARACHI, March 27: replacing narrow-body aircraft with wide-body Airbus A330
- PARIS, March 29: 14 to 16 flights a week (16th flight introduced in October)
- COPENHAGEN, March 31: 6 to 7 flights a week (daily)
- GUANGZHOU, April 13: 5 to 7 flights a week (daily)
- ISTANBUL, April 14: 7 to 10 flights a week
- DELHI, May 1: wide-body Airbus A330 introduced on second daily flight
- SINGAPORE, May 1: 7 to 14 flights a week (double daily), phased in from May to Nov
- GENEVA, May 3: 5 to 7 flights a week (daily)
- MANCHESTER, June 1: 7 to 14 flights a week (double daily)
- SEYCHELLES, June 2: 4 to 7 flights a week (daily)
Qatar Airways has been voted third best airline in the world following the annual 2010 Skytrax survey of 18 million international passengers. In the survey, the airline was also voted as having the Best Business Class Service and Catering in the World, as well as being honoured as the Best Airline in The Middle East for the fifth consecutive year.
Qatar Airways has orders for 80 Airbus A350s, 60 Boeing 787s and 37 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, by which time the New Doha International Airport would have opened. For more information, visit www.qatarairways.com
Qatar Airways Corporate Communications
Tel: +974 44496956, Fax: +974 44620132