QATAR Airways, will serve 80 routes across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the Far East, the India sub-continent, North America and Australia by December 2006 and estimated to carry 12 million passengers by 2010.
Says CEO Akbar Al Baker, “With our expanding route network and the scaling up of our operations and fleet expansion, we are now an extremely strong airline and at a critical stage of our development. I estimate that by 2010 we will be carrying 12 million passengers a year, double what we are achieving today.
“We are looking forward to opening more routes across Asia and increasing capacity to Europe, South Africa and the Far East and believe we are heading towards an exciting period of expansion once the first A340-600s are delivered later this year.”
The airline’s strategy is also to go direct where possible and split some of its existing routes. “As we take delivery of the extended range aircraft scheduled for summer 2006, our intention is to serve New York later this year. And subject to the outcome of discussions regarding regulatory requirements between the Qatari and Australian governments, Australia will open up, possibly with Melbourne later this year.”
In March 2006, Al Baker personally inaugurated the airline’s daily non-stop services to Hong Kong on its new long-haul Airbus A330s from its Doha hub. This marked the airline’s 12th destination in the Far East, after Beijing, Shanghai and Osaka. The same month, the airline unveiled its new corporate livery.
Although Hong Kong became the airline’s 70th global destination of an ever-expanding route network, Al Baker is impatient and continuously striving for new routes, new point-to-points and always innovative for the Qatar Airways value proposition.
“We are the fastest growing airline with total annual growth rate over the past five years of around 40 per cent. I see this growth rate continuing until 2010 after which there will be some flattening out to possibly an average of 20 per cent,” he says.
Qatar Airways currently operates 45 all-Airbus aircraft and the fleet will reach a staggering 110 jetliners by 2015. It is planning to acquire up to 60 of the generation Airbus A350s and is launch customer for the twin-deck A380 super jumbos.