Qatar launches inaugural US capital flight

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker briefed American media on expansion plans across the USA as the carrier celebrated its new flights to Washington DC. The airline’s maiden service to Washington DC arrived at Dulles International Airport in the US capital on Thursday night (19th July)following its 14-hour non-stop journey from Doha, capital of the State of Qatar.

In addition to operating flights between Doha and Washington DC, Qatar Airways began scheduled services on June 26 from Doha to New York (Newark), via Geneva, the airline’s newest European destination.

The award-winning airline, currently in its 10th year of operations, now serves 78 destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Indian subcontinent, Far East and America with a modern fleet of 58 all-Airbus aircraft.

Addressing media at a press conference in Washington DC, Al Baker said the airline, one of the world’s fastest growing carriers, planned to continue its ambitious growth strategy by pressing for additional rights to fly to the US.

‘Three weeks ago, Qatar Airways entered the US market for the first time with flights between Doha and New York. We are now celebrating our second US route with the addition of flights from Doha to Washington DC and being the only airline in the Middle East to serve the US capital non-stop every day of the week,’ he said.

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‘The launch of the Washington service bridges two capitals that share historic links between both Qatar and the United States. We are operating our state-of-the-art Airbus A340-600 on the route featuring a unique onboard First Cass lounge allowing our passengers to unwind and relax in comfort at 35,000 feet.’

Qatar Airways is the launch customer of the High Gross Weight version of the A340-600 allowing the aircraft to fly with a full load of passengers and cargo for up to 14 hours non-stop. The aircraft features eight seats in First Class, 42 in Business Class and 216 in Economy. Passengers in every seat in all three classes of travel have individual seat back TV screens with a fully interactive Audio and Video On Demand entertainment system to choose from. The system features more than 100 international movies and 200 different audio and video programmes.

Added Al Baker: ‘With two key US cities now firmly part of our international route map, Qatar Airways is looking at further growth in this highly important market to ensure our passengers have a greater reach across the United States.

‘Last month, Qatar Airways filed a joint application with United Airlines to codeshare on their flights to more than 50 cities across the US from one of United’s key hubs here in Washington DC.

‘Pending approval from the US Department of Transportation, we are also looking to codeshare with United Airlines on their transatlantic flights from London Heathrow, Paris, Zurich, Rome and Munich to Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. The codeshare will significantly help Qatar Airways gain access to one of the world’s biggest air markets and, in turn, give United Airlines a wider reach in the Middle East and beyond. It is a win, win situation for all.”

‘For passengers it means seamless transfers between flights, baggage checked-through to their final destination and a host of other services offered by both airlines.”

‘This new partnership is an extension of our existing relationship with United Airlines as members of our Privilege Club frequent flyer programme have been able to earn and redeem Qmiles on United flights since November 2005. We have also enjoyed an excellent strategic cargo partnership.’

The press conference, held at the Four Seasons Washington DC, was also attended by Michael Whitaker, United Airlines Senior Vice-President Alliances, International and Regulatory Affairs, who spoke of the benefits the proposed codeshare alliance would bring to both carriers.

Whitaker said:

‘This proposed codeshare will ultimately benefit passengers giving them more choice of destinations to fly in the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent and, indeed for Qatar Airways, across the United States.”

“We are pleased to partner with Qatar Airways to offer our customers services to five new countries as well as expand our current service to the Middle East - one of the fastest growing business regions in the world.’

The press conference was also attended by the Chairman of Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority Mr. Abdul Aziz Al Nuaimi and Sheikh Abdullah Mohammed S A Al Thani, Chairman of Q-Tel.

The launch of Qatar Airways’ US flights is the highlight of the airline’s route expansion programme during 2007, which has already seen Dar es Salaam, Lagos, Bali, Ho Chi Minh City, Chennai, Geneva and New York added to the carrier’s burgeoning network. On November 27, Qatar Airways launches services to the Swedish capital, Stockholm.

Qatar won the accolade for Middle East’s Leading Business Class Airline at the World Travel Awards in 2006
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