Qatar Airways announced further expansion into India this year with the launch of scheduled flights to Nagpur and Ahmedabad to take the airline’s network of cities served across the country to eight. Starting September 23, the Doha-based carrier will launch twice-weekly flights to the central Indian city of Nagpur, located in the State of Maharashtra. Nagpur, with a population of over two million people, is known for its farming belt and orange-growing centre.
International companies have begun looking at Nagpur as India’s next base of technological excellence.
Qatar Airways will be the only full-service scheduled international airline flying to Nagpur.
Almost three months later, beginning December 12, Qatar Airways will start daily operations between Doha and Ahmedabad in the western Indian state of Gujarat.
The city is Gujarat’s largest and the state’s cultural and commercial capital.
Ahmedabad established itself as the home of the booming textile industry, earning it the nickname, the ‘Manchester of the East’ and was at the forefront of the Indian independence movement.
Both routes will be operated with an Airbus A320 aircraft in a two-class configuration of 12 seats in Business Class and 132 in Economy.
Qatar Airways currently operates 42 flights a week to six cities across India - seven services a week to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Cochin, Trivandrum and Hyderabad. The addition of Nagpur and Ahmedabad take the airline’s Indian capacity from 42 services a week to 51 across eight cities.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said India was a key part of the airline’s growth strategy, reflected by the fact that it currently has the most number of destinations than any other country in the network.
‘Our customers have been eagerly awaiting the launch of our Nagpur flights for several months. I am now delighted to announce that Nagpur will finally be part of our international map from September 23.
Following on from our highly successful daily Mumbai flights, Nagpur will become Qatar Airways’ second gateway city in Maharashtra, giving our passengers greater choice.’
Nagpur is an extremely resource-rich region of Maharashtra offering tremendous business opportunities as it is also one of India’s largest inland container transport hubs. A new economic zone and airport are being planned in the city.
Added Al Baker: ‘Ahmedabad is one of India’s largest industrial centres, enjoying a strong reputation as an important base for commerce, trade and industry. Both Nagpur and Ahmedabad will provide excellent connections for our passengers from the Middle East, Africa, Europe and United States.’
Al Baker applauded the Indian government’s policy of opening up its aviation industry to more domestic and international competition which, he said, was good for the consumer. Bilateral relations between Qatar and India, he said, were strengthening and the additional routes only reinforced the commitment between both countries to step up their ties.
With the growth of the Indian economy into a potential global powerhouse and Qatar’s drive to spread its economic wings, increasing air links between the two countries is of paramount importance. Bilateral trade between India and Qatar has an estimated value of just US$1 billion, the majority represented by the export of $690m worth of Qatari liquid natural gas (LNG) to India.
Qatar Airways currently operates a modern fleet of 58 all-Airbus aircraft to 78 destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Far East, Indian subcontinent and North America. The highlight of this year’s expansion has been the launch of flights to New York (Newark) and Washington DC - the airline’s first move into the North American market.
With a growing international network, more travellers have an opportunity to use Qatar Airways’ Premium Terminal at Doha International Airport, exclusively for departing First and Business Class passengers.
The Premium Terminal features facilities including a spa, jacuzzi, exclusive duty free shopping, business centre and fine dining restaurants. Built in just nine months, the US$90 million terminal is the world’s first commercial passenger building dedicated to First and Business Class passengers and offers departing and transit passengers an excellent opportunity to relax and unwind prior to their flight.
Qatar Airways is one of only five airlines in the world with a Five Star ranking for service and excellence awarded by Skytrax, the independent aviation industry monitoring agency. In July 2007, Skytrax voted Qatar Airways as having the Best First Class in the world. The airline’s cabin crew were deemed Best in the Middle East for the fifth consecutive year, and Qatar Airways was also voted Best Airline in the Middle East.
During the 2006/07 financial year, Qatar Airways carried more than 8 million passengers worldwide.