The airline’s newest commercial jet, a 259-seat Boeing 777-200 LR (Long Range) aircraft, was delivered to Qatar Airways at a ceremony in Seattle attended by Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker and Boeing Commercial President and CEO, Jim Albaugh.
The aircraft later departed Boeing’s Everett production plant on the US west coast for the 13-hour non-stop journey to Doha for immediate entry into commercial service.
Qatar Airways now operates 27 Boeing 777 wide body long-haul aircraft, together with a mix of Airbus A320 Family jets, A330s and A340s to reach today’s landmark figure of a 100-strong fleet.
In a year when the award-winning Doha-based airline also launched its 100th destination and was named Airline of the Year 2011 in the annual prestigious Skytrax passenger survey, Qatar Airways’ milestone accomplishments have earned tremendous global recognition among the industry and passengers alike.
Speaking at the ceremony shortly before boarding the delivery flight to the Qatari capital, Al Baker said that the airline had come a long way in a short time since its 1997 launch with a handful of aircraft and handful of routes.
“The industry has watched us closely as we rapidly developed a truly global network of flights to reach all corners of the world with a modern fleet of aircraft to give the travelling public the high levels of service and travel options that they fully deserve,” said Al Baker.
“Since April we have not only launched our 100th route, but have also been given the greatest accolade an airline can ever ask for – that of Airline of the Year – and, now, reaching a third major milestone of operating 100 passenger and cargo aircraft following the latest delivery.
Boeing’s Jim Albaugh added: “We congratulate Qatar Airways on this significant milestone. In just over a decade, Qatar Airways has grown to become a world-class, award-winning airline with a rapidly expanding network spanning six continents. This is a tremendous achievement by any measure and we are proud the 777 was selected to play a key part in this.”
The Boeing 777 has quickly established itself as Qatar Airways’ flagship long-haul aircraft, just four years since its induction into the airline’s burgeoning fleet.
Al Baker added that the Boeing 777 had proved to be an exceptional aircraft, allowing the airline to enter strategic long-haul and ultra long-haul markets with a flying time of up to 16 hours non-stop from Qatar Airways’ Doha hub.
“Since we received our first Boeing 777 in November 2007, the airplane has earned itself a reputation for comfort, versatility and reliability, and it is only fitting that our 100th aircraft is a 777.
“From an operational perspective, the 777 has enabled us to pursue our aggressive global expansion plans, allowing us to operate direct non-stop flights from our Doha hub to destinations as far afield as Sao Paolo, Melbourne, Houston and Montreal in a cost-effective manner.
“From a passenger perspective, the aircraft offers unparalleled reliability, while its spacious cabin architecture, combined with our award-winning Five Star service and interiors makes for one of the finest flying experiences for passengers today.”
Of the Boeing 777s in Qatar Airways’ current fleet, 16 are of the Extended Range version, nine are ultra Long Range and the remaining two being freighters. The airline has a further 13 Boeing 777s on order.
Like all its Boeing 777 passenger planes, Qatar Airways’ latest aircraft features unrivalled products and amenities, including seat-back entertainment for every passenger. The fully interactive audio and video on demand entertainment system offers over 1,000 programming options.
The Business Class cabin features 42 seats in a 2–2–2 configuration offering one less seat per row than competitors. With a pitch of 78 inches, each seat converts into 180-degree horizontal beds, ensuring space and comfort that easily exceed many carriers which offer First Class.
Economy Class features 217 seats in a 3–3–3 configuration offering a pitch of up to 34 inches – and also one less seat per row than competitor airlines.
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.
By 2013, Qatar Airways plans to serve more than 120 key business and leisure destinations worldwide with a fleet of over 120 aircraft. Today, the airline’s fleet of 100 aircraft flies to more than 100 destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.
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. For more information, visit www.qatarairways.com