Qatar Airways has announced plans to expand its international network with the addition of seven new routes during 2007 - celebrating 10 years of flying since its relaunch.From Europe and Africa to Asia and, for the first time, North America, Qatar Airways will add seven key cities to its route network over the next 12 months. And the airline confirmed it will take delivery of the first of 20 Boeing 777s next year to operate long haul routes from the carrier’s Doha hub.
Nigeria’s commercial centre of Lagos joins Qatar Airways’ network from January 3, followed six days later by Dar Es Salaam, capital of Tanzania.
Qatar Airways will begin flying to the tropical island of Bali from the start of the Summer 2007 season in March, supporting its existing Indonesian operation where the airline already serves the capital, Jakarta.
And Vietnam is also on the horizon when Ho Chi Minh City is set to become yet another destination in Qatar Airways’ Asian portfolio next March.
For the first time, a Qatar Airways aircraft will land in the United States with daily scheduled flights from Doha to New York, scheduled to begin in Summer 2007.
The US route will be operated non-stop with Qatar Airways’ new state-of-the-art Airbus A340-600 aircraft, featuring a unique onboard First Class lounge. The airline was recently the launch customer of the High Gross Weight version of the aircraft, which is currently operating on the Doha - London Heathrow route.
In addition, Qatar Airways will fly to a new point in Northern Europe and, for the first time, in eastern Europe, in the second half of 2007. Details of the two new European destinations are being finalised.
Addressing a press conference at World Travel Market in London on Monday, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said 2007 would be a milestone year for the Doha-based airline.
“Back in 1994, Qatar Airways launched operations with just a handful of regional routes with a handful of aircraft,” he said.
“The airline was relaunched in 1997 and, almost 10 years on, Qatar Airways now flies an international network covering 70 destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Indian subcontinent and Far East.
“Our fleet has grown sharply to 51 aircraft and we have simply gone from strength to strength carrying more than six million passengers a year representing annual growth averaging 35%. We are well on target to more than double our fleet size to 110 aircraft by 2015.”
The airline plans to acquire 20 Boeing 777s with deliveries beginning at the end of 2007. With options for a further 20 Boeing 777s, these new aircraft - a mix of Extended Range, Long Range and Freighters - will be the backbone of Qatar Airways’ long-haul, wide-body fleet and used on new routes across North America and Australasia.
Qatar Airways’ brand new Premium Terminal - the world’s only stand-alone terminal dedicated to First and Business Class passengers - is set to open at Doha International Airport by the end of this month.
The new US$90 million facility, built in just nine months, will feature a spa, jacuzzi, fine dining restaurants, together with duty-free and exclusive check-in for premium passengers flying with Qatar Airways.
The terminal building will be ready in time for the 15th Asian Games taking place in Doha between December 1 - 15.