Qatar Airways has extended its Middle East footprint with the launch of scheduled flights to the city of Erbil in northern Iraq.
The Doha-based airline is operating four-flights-a-week non-stop on the route – the first of two new Iraqi services being launched within two weeks. Effective June 7th, Qatar Airways will start flights to the capital Baghdad, also operating four-times-a-week.
Both the Erbil and Baghdad services are being operated with an Airbus A320 in a two-class configuration of 12 seats in Business Class and 132 in Economy.
Qatar Airways senior vice-president GCC, Levant, Iran, Iraq and Indian subcontinent Fathi Al Shehab was onboard inaugural flight QR 446 which arrived at Erbil International Airport to a traditional water salute welcome followed by an airport ceremony attended by local officials.
Erbil takes Qatar Airways’ global network to 115 destinations worldwide.
Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker said: “Iraq has long been underserved due to the political and economic difficulties the country has faced over the years, but Iraq is undergoing reform, opening up to rapid infrastructure improvements and improved air access in an area for so long depleted by sufficient number of flights.
“With the changes taking place, there are a growing number of opportunities across the country prompting more international air travel. We look forward to making Erbil and our start-up to Baghdad next month a huge success.”
Located 350km north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, Erbil is the country’s third largest city and fastest growing with a population of over one million people.
Addressing local airport officials and media upon arrival in Erbil, Al Shehab said: “Erbil is the latest route launch for Qatar Airways in a busy year that now sees the fifth destination added to the carrier’s global network since January.
“We have been working with the travel trade and corporations not only in Iraq, but around our network to build these two routes together.
Qatar Airways is considered the Middle East’s Leading Airline Business Class by the World Travel Awards.