Even as it announced plans to fly to Australia, Qatar Airways said it will increase the number of weekly flights to Frankfurt, Munich, Paris and Vienna, according to a statement by chief executive officer Akbar Al Baker.
The airline has started flying six times to Frankfurt, five times to Munich and five times to Vienna and will begin flights to Zurich this summer. It will fly four times a week to Zurich as of July 8 and that it will fly daily to Paris as of June 1.
Al Baker said the airline’s Australia services will begin with a flight to Melbourne, with services commencing in late 2004. “While we are still finalising our schedule, commencing services to Melbourne is a key step in Qatar Airways’ plans to become a major international carrier between Australia, the Middle East and Europe,” said Al Baker. “We see Qatar Airways’ expanding fleet of new aircraft fitted to the highest levels of passenger comfort as a new benchmark in travel to Australia,” he said, adding that the increase in frequencies and destinations was tied to taking delivery of 13 new aircraft this year.
“Receiving 13 new aircraft this year, a virtually unprecedented delivery for an airline of our size, means that we can increase frequencies to our existing destinations and inaugurate new destinations,” he said.
Late last year, Australia and Qatar finalised an air services agreement that allows Qatar Airways to operate three services per week to Australia.
The company’s growth, along with $2.5 billion redevelopment of Doha International Airport, would make Qatar a major hub for international services to Australia, Al Baker said. In talks with Victorian Premier Steve Bracks, Al Baker said Qatar Airways was committed to Melbourne services and would demonstrate that demand exists for daily services at least by the airline. Bracks said Tourism Victoria would prepare a cooperative marketing programme aimed at maximising outcomes for Qatar Airlines and Victoria. “I want to assure Qatar Airways that Victoria values its decision and will work hard to make these services a success,” Bracks said.
Qatar’s flag carrier will serve 50 destinations by the end of the year and plans to extend that to 60 within two years.
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