Qatar Airways chief executive officer Akbar Al Baker said the airline planned to continue its ambitious growth strategy by pressing for additional rights to fly to the US.
He briefed American media on expansion plans across the US as the carrier celebrated its new flights to Washington DC.
“The launch of the Washington service bridges two capitals that share historic links between both Qatar and the US,” Al Baker said. “We are operating our state-of-the-art Airbus A340-600 on the route featuring a unique onboard First Cass lounge allowing our passengers to unwind and relax in comfort at 35,000 feet.”
The airline, currently in its 10th year of operations, now serves 78 destinations across the globe.
“With two key US cities now firmly part of our international route map, Qatar Airways is looking at further growth in this highly important market to ensure our passengers have a greater reach across the United States,” Al Baker said.
“Last month, Qatar Airways filed a joint application with United Airlines to codeshare on their flights to more than 50 cities across the US from one of United’s key hubs here in Washington DC. Pending approval from the US Department of Transportation, we are also looking to codeshare with United Airlines on their transatlantic flights from London Heathrow, Paris, Zurich, Rome and Munich to Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago.”
The codeshare will significantly help Qatar Airways gain access to one of the world’s biggest air markets and, in turn, give United Airlines a wider reach in the Middle East and beyond. It is a win, win situation for all.
“For passengers it means seamless transfers between flights, baggage checked-through to their final destination and a host of other services offered by both airlines,” he said.
Qatar Airways is the launch customer of the High Gross Weight version of the A340-600 allowing the aircraft to fly with a full load of passengers and cargo for up to 14 hours non-stop.
The aircraft features eight seats in First Class, 42 in Business Class and 216 in Economy. Passengers in every seat in all three classes of travel have individual seat back TV screens with a fully interactive Audio and Video On Demand entertainment system to choose from.
The system features more than 100 international movies and 200 different audio and video programmes.
The launch of Qatar Airways’ US flights is the highlight of the airline’s route expansion programme during 2007.
The airline’s fleet will almost double in size to 110 aircraft by 2015 as it acquires 80 Airbus A350s and 22 Boeing 777s, with deliveries of the latter beginning in November 2007. The airline is a launch customer of the twin-deck Airbus A380 ‘super jumbos’ with five aircraft on order and scheduled for delivery from 2010.
Qatar Airways moves to the New Doha International Airport in 2009, when the first phase of the new facility opens.
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