Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker presented his vision of the airline as a force to be reckoned with over the next few years, during a media briefing held in Singapore.Celebrating the launch of daily non-stop flights to the island state using the state-of-the-art Airbus A330 aircraft, Al Baker hosted leading Singapore media figures over lunch at the city’s Four Seasons Hotel. Al Baker spoke of Qatar Airways’ meteoric growth since its relaunch in 1997 to become one of the fastest growing airlines in the world.
He outlined the company’s vision to become a key player in global aviation. Only last month, Qatar Airways, which operates a fleet of 40 all-Airbus aircraft, announced plans at the Paris Air Show to acquire up to 80 planes, comprising 60 of the new generation A350s and 20 Boeing 777s worth a total US$15.2 billion.
Al Baker said the airline will almost triple its fleet size by the year 2015, which he stressed was unprecedented expansion that was being admired with envy by rest of the aviation industry. He described how Qatar Airways had made significant inroads in the industry to become an award-winning airline in just a short few years. As part of the airline’s growth strategy, Al Baker said Qatar Airways was introducing new destinations and increasing frequency on existing routes to offer passengers with a greater choice of flights and convenient connection opportunities over Doha.
The Singapore route, he said, had just been upgraded from an Airbus A300 aircraft to the larger A330 offering the latest in inflight comfort and amenities. The route is being operated non-stop on all daily flights, cutting out the indirect service via Kuala Lumpur to provide a faster flight time.
The new daily non-stop service operated with the A330-200 aircraft features a fully interactive inflight entertainment system in every seat. The A330 is the backbone of Qatar Airways’ long-haul fleet to destinations as far as Europe, South Africa and Far East.
Al Baker said Singapore had been a highly successful route for the airline since the service was launched in November 2003 and it was only a matter of time before it was upgraded to a bigger capacity aircraft flying non-stop.
Singapore is one of 11 Far East destinations served by Qatar Airways from its operational hub in Doha, capital of the State of Qatar in the Arabian Gulf. The Far East represents 18 per cent of the airline’s global network. The airline’s Far East services currently cover Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing, Osaka, Seoul, Manila, Cebu, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Yangon and Jakarta.
With Qatar Airways being a key sponsor of the Asian Games in Doha next year, Al Baker said the airline will spend the next 18 months focusing much of its efforts in Asia to promote the event. He explained that Qatar Airways planned to fly to further destinations in the Far East over the next 18 months.
Al Baker also briefed the media on the current state of the US$5.5 billion New Doha International Airport, of which construction began in January 2005 and was on schedule for phase one to be completed by 2009. Most of the dredging work from the sea has been completed with 60 per cent of the new airport built on reclaimed land, he said.
He described how the new airport would be an architectural marvel, and the first in the world to be designed and built specifically for Airbus’s new A380-800 double-decker ‘super jumbo’ - the largest passenger aircraft ever built. The A380 will be capable of carrying more than 550 passengers, with Qatar Airways a launch customer taking delivery of the first of its four A380s in 2009, the year the new airport opens.