QATAR Airways has already booked a press conference for the Dubai Airshow this year, but is not scheduled to make any announcements during WTM – being held at the same time.
As usual, however, the airline will have a stand at WTM, showcasing its in-flight product and new destinations. There will also be a mock-up of the unique Qatar Airways’ onboard First Class Airbus A340 lounge.
The airline, which currently operates a modern fleet of 58 all-Airbus aircraft to 79 destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Far East, Indian subcontinent and North America is scheduled to take delivery of the first of its 22 Boeing 777s in November 2007. The aircraft is to be deployed on one of the airlines’ long-haul routes, but details were not available as TTN went to print.
Airline officials say the highlight of this year’s expansion has been the launch of flights into North America, to New York (Newark) and Washington DC. Qatar Airways also began scheduled services in June from Doha to Newark via Geneva and is now awaiting US approval for a code share agreement with United Airlines to more than 50 cities across the US.
Beginning November 27, the airline will operate four non-stop flights a week between Doha and Stockholm-Arlanda Inter-national Airport – its first Scandinavian gateway.
Qatar Airways’ CEO, Akbar Al Baker, says the addition of Stockholm reinforces the airline's strategy to serve key cities around the world. “With this route launch we will be able to serve the entire Scandinavian market and vice versa, bringing visitors from key feeder markets of the GCC countries to Scandinavia.”
Hopes expressed earlier this year that Cyprus would be added to the network have not materialised and the airline says it has no imminent plans to add Cyprus to its network.
Qatar Airways is, meanwhile, one of the largest foreign airlines currently serving India, with flights to seven cities – Nagpur, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Trivandrum, Cochin and Hyderabad.
With the launch of daily flights between Doha and Gujarat state’s largest city of Ahmedabad in western India starting on December 12, the airline will reach a milestone ‘51 services a week’ linking Qatar with India. Qatar Airways launched flights to both Chennai and Nagpur this year.
Officials say the airline has scheduled “further expansion in routes and frequency on existing routes to give passengers greater choice” in 2008, but as yet will not release any details.
The airline’s Premium Terminal at Doha International Airport celebrates the first anniversary of its opening this month. Expanision continues and more duty free areas are under construction, a new nursery has already been built and more check-in counters created.
Congestion at immigration is said to have eased significantly since the introduction of ‘e-gates’.
There are currently four e-gates in the departure lounge, and three in arrivals, with more scheduled to be added. The e-gate system was recently introduced by the Ministry of Interior as part of its ongoing modernisation programme to enhance services offered to the public.
by Gina Coleman