Qatar Airways confirms schedule expansion

Qatar Airways has confirmed plans to launch scheduled flights to Australia and further expand its operations in India and Europe with new routes from the start of the Northern Winter 2009 schedules.Flights to the Australian cities of Sydney and Melbourne, together with new services to Goa and Amritsar in India, and two new European services are being earmarked over the next nine months.

In addition, the Doha-based carrier will increase frequency to selected destinations across its global network from the beginning of the Northern Summer 2009 schedules on March 29.

Subject to regulatory approval, the long-awaited Australian services will become reality as more Boeing 777-200 Long Range aircraft join the fleet. There are currently eight Boeing 777s in Qatar Airways’ fleet of 68 aircraft - of which two are the Boeing 777 Long Range version capable of flying from Doha to Australia non-stop.

Amritsar, located in the rich northwestern Indian agricultural heartland of Punjab State, is home to the Golden Temple - the spiritual and cultural centre of the Sikh religion. Together with the popular idyllic beach holiday state of Goa, the two new routes will boost Qatar Airways’ Indian capacity from nine to 11 destinations.

Qatar Airways will also step up its European presence with two new routes, which are currently being finalised.

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The airline’s first new route launch of 2009 will be daily flights between Doha and Houston which, at just under 17 hours, will be one of the longest non-stop flights in the world.

Beginning March 30, the Houston route will feature Qatar Airways’ new fully flat Business Class seats deployed on its two Boeing 777-200 Long Range aircraft, which the airline took delivery of over the past six weeks.

The expansion is part of the airline’s ongoing growth strategy - a long-term commitment to develop its route infrastructure as new aircraft join the fleet at an average delivery rate of one a month.

The award-winning Doha-based airline currently has on order more than 200 new Airbus and Boeing aircraft worth over US$40 billion.

“As a network hub airline, Qatar Airways does not rely on traffic from any specific markets, so we are largely immune from the circumstances surrounding the current global economic meltdown,” said Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker. “With new aircraft joining our fleet at an incredible rate of one a month for the foreseeable future, we are confident going forward, able to consolidate our position by increasing frequency on existing routes and introducing new routes to give passengers greater choice.”

In addition to the route expansion, Qatar Airways is gradually stepping up capacity from March 29 to eight cities - Geneva, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Lagos, Muscat, Mashad (Iran), Tunis and Algiers.

The frequency increases will see the Philippines capital of Manila being served with two daily flights, up from the current 11 services a week; Nigeria’s commercial capital of Lagos going from five services a week to daily; and capacity to the Omani capital of Muscat rising from 15 to 21 flights a week.

With the opening of the New Doha International Airport scheduled for 2012, Qatar Airways plans to increase its global network to beyond 100 cities worldwide.

Highlights Of Qatar Airways’ 2009 Capacity Increases

Houston - new route launch daily from March 30
Geneva - up from 4 to 5 flights a week from March 29
Lagos - up from 5 to 7 flights a week (daily) from March 29
Manila - up from 11 to 14 flights a week (double daily) from March 29
Muscat - up from 15 to 21 flights a week from March 29
Mashad - up from 3 to 5 flights a week from March 29
Kuala Lumpur - up from 7 to 10 flights a week from June 1
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