Basra, REPUBLIC OF IRAQ – Qatar Airways today launched flights to its fourth destination in the Republic of Iraq – to the southern port city of Basra.
The new services, operating four-times-a-week non-stop from the airline’s Doha hub, takes the carrier’s global network to 128 destinations worldwide.
The launch also marks the rapid expansion by Qatar Airways in Iraq since the middle of 2012 when it began flights to Erbil, followed by the capital Baghdad and, earlier this year, Najaf.
With today’s route launch, Qatar Airways’ frequency across Iraq rises from 12 to 16 flights each week – representing a more than 25 per cent increase in services.
Basra also marks the carrier’s fourth new Middle Eastern destination launched so far this year after Najaf, Gassim in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Salalah in Oman.
The arrival of Qatar Airways’ flight QR 448 was welcomed at Basra International Airport with a reception presided by local officials. Fathi Al Shehab, Qatar Airways Senior Vice President GCC, Levant, Iran and Indian Subcontinent led an official delegation on the flight from Doha.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said he was delighted to see additional flights open up another entry point to Iraq.
“The Republic of Iraq has been on our list of expansion priorities for some time and the last 12 months have seen us move forward very quickly opening up four new gateways in Iraq with a fifth Sulaymaniyah starting in August,” he said.
“Qatar Airways’ commitment is strong as we continue to build on our already strong relationship between the State of Qatar and the Republic of Iraq.
“Opening up Iraq to the world with more travel options and flexibility has always been part of our general strategy to enter underserved markets and give the travelling public to and from such places the ability to travel with greater choice, bringing the world closer to them.”
The Basra flights connect to more than 100 destinations worldwide, including London, Paris, Singapore, Bangkok, Beijing, Johannesburg, Melbourne, Delhi and Mumbai.
Addressing guests on arrival at Basra International Airport, Fathi Al Shehab acknowledged the warm support of the people of Basra and the local authorities.
“We are delighted to have added Basra to our ever growing international route network and we congratulate the people of Basra on what is a very special day for their city. Qatar Airways is pleased to be able to support Iraq’s rebuilding and efforts with investments in new routes and local economies – and Basra is no exception,” he said.
”As we know, Basra is a huge oil and gas market offering ample business for those keen in taking part in the opportunities that exist in Iraq’s current restructuring process. Yet it also has huge tourist potential untapped due to events of recent years.”
Being Iraq’s second largest city after the capital Baghdad and home to the country’s main port – aside from the natural business interests – Basra is part of the historic and cultural location of Sumer, home of the adventurous, fictional character Sinbad the Sailor.
With the 2014 Gulf Cup coming to Iraq – and Basra playing a key role in this prestigious soccer tournament – it is a perfect platform to show the world that this country is moving ahead in all sectors and progressively transforming itself into a revitalised nation, explained Al Shehab.
The Doha – Basra route is being operated by a state-of-the-art Airbus A320 featuring 144 seats in a two-class configuration of 12 seats in Business Class and 132 seats in Economy. Selected aircraft feature seatback TV screens, providing passengers with the next generation interactive onboard entertainment system, featuring a choice of more than 800 audio and video on-demand options, together with an SMS text messaging service from each seat.
Qatar Airways has seen rapid growth in just 16 years of operations, currently flying a modern fleet of 124 aircraft to 128 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and The Americas.
Qatar Airways has so far launched six destinations – Gassim (Saudi Arabia), Najaf (Iraq), Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Chicago (USA), Salalah (Oman) and now Basra (Iraq).
Over the next few weeks and months, the network will grow further with Sulaymaniyah, Iraq (August 20), Chengdu, China (September 3), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (September 18), Clark International Airport, Philippines (October 28) and Philadelphia, USA (2 April 2014).
DOHA – BASRA: Flight Schedules, effective 3 June 2013
Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays
Depart Doha QR448 at 0725 hrs, arrive Basra 0905 hrs
Depart Basra QR449 at 1005 hrs, arrive Doha 1145 hrs
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Notes to Editors
Qatar Airways currently has orders worth over US$50 billion for more than 250 aircraft, including Boeing 787s, 777s, Airbus A350s, A380s and A320 Family of aircraft. In addition to winning Skytrax’s prestigious Airline of the Year 2011 and 2012, Qatar Airways was named Best Airline in the Middle East for the seventh year in a row, and its Premium Terminal at Doha International Airport was named Best Premium Service Airport for the second consecutive year 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 October 2012, Qatar Airways became the first of the major Gulf carriers to officially join a global alliance having been invited into the oneworld group. For more information, visit www.qatarairways.com