Qatar Airways today reinforced its long-term commitment to growth with continued investment in new aircraft, new routes and improving airport infrastructure ahead of next year’s opening of the New Doha International Airport.
The award-winning airline has so far launched four new routes from its Doha hub this year – Bengaluru (Bangalore), Copenhagen, Ankara and Tokyo – with a further three, Barcelona, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires, set to begin next month.
Supported by the arrival of more than one new aircraft a month, including the airline’s first Boeing 777 freighter due to be delivered in a week’s time, and the opening of a brand new airline-owned airport hotel and new arrivals terminal in Doha, Qatar Airways’ expansion is forging ahead with vigour.
Speaking at a press conference in Dubai today, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said: “When Qatar Airways launched in 1997, the strategy was clear – to develop an international airline with the highest standards.”
“I am delighted to say that we are well on track with our strategy, opening up routes in all corners of the world, introducing brand new aircraft into the fleet at a phenomenal rate and investing in our existing airport in Doha while the New Doha International Airport is under construction,” he said during a media briefing on the opening day of Arabian Travel Market, the region’s premier travel industry event.
“Since February, we have opened up some great new routes in India, Turkey, Denmark and Japan. And June will be a busy month for us as we prepare to launch flights to a second Spanish destination, and enter South America for the first time with flights to Brazil and Argentina.”
Beginning June 7, daily flights to Barcelona will be added to the airline’s network, supporting existing scheduled services to the capital Madrid and reinforcing Qatar Airways’ position as the only Gulf carrier currently flying to Spain.
The new Spanish route to the Mediterranean port city will appeal to both business and leisure travellers.
Less than three weeks later, starting June 24, Qatar Airways launches daily flights to South America’s two largest cities – Sao Paulo in Brazil and Buenos Aires in Argentina – operated with the carrier’s flagship Boeing 777 wide body aircraft.
The two South American routes will help strengthen trade and economic ties with the Middle East, and offer a convenient connection home for the huge expat Lebanese and also Japanese communities living and working on the continent.
Al Baker added: “These are exciting times for Qatar Airways. Apart from new aircraft and new routes, we continue to invest in our airport infrastructure in Doha.
“A brand new arrivals terminal will open soon, which will free up space at the current airport where the departures check-in area will be extended. Qatar Airways is also opening a new hotel at the airport, aimed at corporate and leisure travellers, as well as transit passengers.
“With the pace at which Qatar Airways is growing, we must continue to invest in the existing airport until the new airport opens. This is an investment for the future.”
Al Baker said that the New Doha International Airport was scheduled to be ready by the end of 2011, with both runways and main terminal structure already completed. The airport will have a capacity of 24 million passengers in the initial opening phase.
Qatar Airways currently operates a modern fleet of 82 aircraft to 89 destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and North America.
Long-term, the fleet size is set to rise to 120 aircraft by 2013 and destinations served increase to 120 over the next three years. The airline has placed orders for more than 200 aircraft worth over US$40 billion. This includes delivery of the first of three Boeing 777 dedicated freighter aircraft due to join the fleet from next week.
“With our new freighter aircraft, we will have greater flexibility, flying to more destinations, further afield from our Doha hub. They will fly alongside our three Airbus A300 Freighters, which currently form the airline’s cargo fleet.”