Qatar Airways today announced three cities will join its rapidly growing global network during the second half of 2011, part of a continued expansion strategy focused on new routes and capacity increases.
India, Norway and Bulgaria have been earmarked for new route development as the airline spelled out its ongoing commitment to international growth, targeting both popular and underserved markets in Europe, Middle East, North America and Asia, from its Doha hub.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker unveiled the latest expansion details at a press conference on the opening day of ITB Berlin – the world’s largest travel show taking place in the German capital this week.
Daily flights to the eastern Indian city of Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, will be launched on July 27 taking Qatar Airways’ capacity in India to 95 services a week spread across 12 cities.
In Europe, where much of Qatar Airways’ recent expansion has been the focus, the airline is to launch four-flights-a-week to the Bulgarian capital Sofia from September 14. In January, the carrier began services to the Romanian capital Bucharest, Hungarian capital Budapest and Belgium’s capital city of Brussels.
Beginning October 5, Qatar Airways builds on its successful operations in Scandinavia with the start of five-flights-a-week to Norway’s capital city of Oslo. The airline already operates scheduled services to the Swedish capital Stockholm and Denmark’s capital city of Copenhagen.
Together with a raft of capacity increases that see the Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Manchester and Dar Es Salaam routes go double daily, Geneva, Seychelles and Copenhagen will be upgraded to daily operations.
This week, Qatar Airways embarked on the latest phase of its 2011 expansion drive launching three-flights-a-week to Stuttgart – its fourth German gateway and 99th international destination. Europe now accounts for 25 destinations in the carrier’s global network.
With frequency on the Munich route increasing from daily to 11 flights a week, effective today, (March 9) and the Frankfurt route upgraded from 10 to 13 flights each week, beginning March 27, Qatar Airways faces its biggest ever capacity rise in Germany in a short timeframe – from 24 to 34 flights a week. The Doha – Berlin route remains a daily operation.
April 6 marks a key moment for Qatar Airways with the launch of non-stop flights from Doha to the historic Syrian city of Aleppo – the airline’s milestone 100th destination.
With three recently-announced routes to start in June alone – Iranian city of Shiraz (June 5), Italy’s Adriatic coastline city of Venice (June 15) and Montreal (June 29) being its first move into Canada, Qatar Airways is preparing for a busy summer ahead.
Speaking at a packed press conference at ITB Berlin, Al Baker said the airline’s growth remained on target with relentless expansion. “Yet again, we are demonstrating our strategic focus to serve key business and leisure cities around the world, as well as underserved markets with new direct flights and increased capacity,” he explained.
“Today’s announcement of new services to Kolkata, Oslo and Sofia reflects our commitment to connect diverse global cities via our Doha hub. Kolkata becomes our 12th gateway city in India, while Sofia is another example of serving underserved markets. And with Oslo set to be part of our network, Qatar Airways will strengthen its presence in Scandinavia as the biggest Gulf-based airline flying to the region.”
Qatar Airways’ 2011 expansion highlights are:-
* STUTTGART, March 6: 3-flights-a-week take the airline’s German network to four routes
* ALEPPO, April 6: 4-flights-a-week, airline’s 100th destination
* SHIRAZ, June 5: Twice-weekly flights – carrier’s third destination in Iran
* VENICE, June 15: Daily flights take Italian network up to three cities
* MONTREAL, June 29: Airline’s debut in Canada with introduction of thrice-weekly flights
* KOLKATA, July 27: Daily flights take airline’s Indian network up to 12 destinations
* SOFIA, September 14: 4-flights-a-week strengthen Eastern European presence
* OSLO, October 5: 5-flights-a-week – airline’s third Scandinavian route
* BENGALURU, March 1: replacing narrow-body aircraft with wide-body Airbus A330
* MUNICH, March 9: 7 to 11 flights a week
* FRANKFURT, March 27: 10 to 13 flights a week; introducing Boeing 777 on some flights
* BARCELONA, March 27: replacing narrow-body aircraft with wide-body Airbus A330
* KUALA LUMPUR, March 27: 11 to 14 flights a week (double daily), phased from March to Oct
* DAR ES SALAAM, March 27: 12 to 14 flights a week (double daily)
* MUSCAT, March 27: 21 to 24 flights a week
* KARACHI, March 27: replacing narrow-body aircraft with wide-body Airbus A330
* PARIS, March 29: 14 to 16 flights a week (16th flight introduced in October)
* COPENHAGEN, March 31: 6 to 7 flights a week (daily)
* SINGAPORE, May 1: 7 to 14 flights a week (double daily), phased in from May to Nov
* GENEVA, May 3: 5 to 7 flights a week (daily)
* MANCHESTER, June 1: 7 to 14 flights a week (double daily)
* SEYCHELLES, June 2: 4 to 7 flights a week (daily)
Added Al Baker: “As we take delivery of more aircraft, we will quickly induct them into service and constantly look at new opportunities to give the travelling public more travel options, more choice and more flexibility.”
Since January 2010, Qatar Airways has taken delivery of 22 new planes – a mix of wide-body Boeing 777s, narrow-body Airbus A320 Family aircraft and Bombardier business jets, the latter for the airline’s corporate jet division, Qatar Executive.
The airline’s Doha hub feeds passenger and cargo traffic to all parts of the world, offering convenient connections across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.
By 2013, Qatar Airways plans to serve more than 120 key business and leisure destinations worldwide with a modern fleet of over 120 aircraft. Today, the airline’s fleet stands at 94 aircraft.