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Friday, August 13, 2010

Qatar Airways nears 100-route milestone

Qatar Airways’ expansion drive that has seen the addition of new route launches in the first half of this year has brought the carrier to the threshold of completing a century of destinations spread over six continents, the company’s top executive said yesterday.

“Qatar Airways has been on a remarkable expansion drive with seven new route launches in the first six months of 2010 among them Bengaluru,Copenhagen, Ankara, Tokyo and Barcelona,” Qatar Airways chief executive officer Akbar al-Baker said.

In an interview with Qatar News Agency yesterday, al-Baker said, “A special highlight was our first entry into South America in June, where we introduced daily flights to Brazil and Argentina. It also means that Qatar Airways now covers six continents.”

Six further routes are scheduled to be launched over a four-month period from October 2010 that would propel Qatar Airways’ passenger network to almost 100 destinations.

The additions of Phuket (October 12), Hanoi (November 1), Nice (November 24), Bucharest (January 17), Budapest (January 17) and Brussels (January 31) will “continue Qatar Airways’ successful business model of targeting new routes in underserved markets”.

Qatar Airways has been in overdrive mode in its fleet expansion plans recently. The carrier reached a milestone on August 1 when it received delivery of its 20th Boeing 777, a long range B777-200 aircraft which is the seventh long range Boeing in its fleet.

On the prospects for the last two quarters of the year, al-Baker said, “Qatar Airways entered 2010 in a strong position with increases in passenger numbers and fleet size, and this trend is set to continue as we add new destinations to our network and upgrade a number of frequencies on key routes. Airline revenues have exceeded forecasts and with increasing passenger numbers, higher yields, the launching of a dozen new routes, the outlook is very positive.

With regional carriers eyeing a share in the business and leisure travel segment competition is increasing on certain sectors. In fact some carriers operate on the same routes as Qatar Airways. However, al-Baker is unfazed by the prospect of competition and price war.

“Qatar Airways has a very competitive product, made out of reasonable fares combined with premium service, no matter in what class you are travelling in. That is what we are good at,” he said. “As a full service airline, we are not in head-to-head competition with budget carriers, and we differentiate ourselves on the basis of our award-winning services and superior equipment.”

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