How has 2007 fared for Qatar Airways?
CEO of the Doha headquartered national carrier, Akbar Al Baker, said, “This year has been an historic year for Qatar Airways for many reasons.”
These include the launch of 11 new routes, and the fact that during the 2006/2007 financial year, the airline carried more than eight million passengers worldwide.
“We made our first foray into the US market with scheduled flights to New York and Washington; we placed orders for 92 Boeing aircraft comprising the 787s and 777s; and we took delivery of our first Boeing aircraft”, says Al Baker. The airline will, in fact, become the first Middle East carrier to operate both Boeing 777s and Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliners’.
In 2007 Qatar Airways also became the single largest customer for the Airbus A350 with 80 aircraft ordered at the Paris Air Show. “A great year to look back on, and one that maintains our aggressive expansion strategy.”
With multi-billion dollar orders for a total of 172 aircraft, it was indeed “not a bad year by airline standards”.
New routes in 2007 included New York, Washington, Stockholm, Geneva, Chennai, Ho Chi Minh City, Ahmedabad, Bali, Dar es Salaam, Lagos, and Nagpur.
What are the company’s plans for 2008?
The airline has confirmed orders for fourteen Boeing 777-300ERs, six 777-200LRs and seven 777-200Fs, with deliveries running until mid-2010. There are also options for a further five Boeing 777 aircraft. The Boeing 777-200 freighters will be delivered from 2009.
“With a capability of flying 16 hours non-stop, the Boeing 777 truly does provide Qatar Airways with global coverage, linking Doha with any city worldwide,” says Al Baker, adding, “Our first Boeing 777 will be deployed on the Doha – Washington route from January 2008, by which time the airline will take delivery of its second Boeing 777. Until then, the aircraft will fly selected regional routes across the Middle East.”
Regarding 2008, other officials from the airline said, “We will focus on introducing new passenger and freighter routes, together with increasing frequencies on existing routes. We will continue to grow our narrow body and wide body fleet with both Airbus and Boeing deliveries during the course of the year. We are looking at stepping up our operation in the United States with direct flights to Houston non-stop from Doha during the year. And further route expansion will be announced during 2008.”
What is the airline’s strategy in the face of competition?
Competition is good and healthy. Without it, one cannot benchmark one’s service levels, so competition helps drive to be ahead of the rest and be the best. Our competition is not regional airlines but international global operators as Qatar Airways is a full service international airline, say company officials.
Is QA bullish about 2008?
Absolutely. We are confident about the next 12 months as we are operating in a vibrant part of the world where economic growth is dynamic and demand for air travel at a high.
What else can Qatar Airways’ passengers look forward to in the New Year?
“The Boeing 777 offers the greatest levels of space and comfort across our long-haul fleet,” says Al Baker. “With a 78 inch business class pitch, our 42 premium seats are undoubtedly the best in the region. And our 293 seats in economy offer the greatest levels of comfort in this cabin than any other airline in the region. But it’s not all about seat comfort and space. Hospitality and the highest standards of service are our hallmark at Qatar Airways.
Following the launch of its flights to the United States, Qatar Airways and United Airlines have also implemented a code share agreement. Qatar Airways’ QR flight code is now placed on selected services operated by United Airlines.
The United Airlines’ UA flight code is also placed on Qatar Airways’ flights between Doha and Washington DC and Newark, as well as a number of routes operated by Qatar Airways across its network from Doha.
Although a bit further away than 2008 - the airline is also offering air travellers a ‘greener’ option in the future. It has signed a joint agreement with Qatar Petroleum, Shell, Airbus, Rolls Royce, Qatar Fuel (Woqod) and Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) to investigate the fuel-related benefits of using synthetic jet fuels to power aviation turbine engines. The agreement hopes to see Qatar Airways become the first commercial airline in the world to operate flights using gas-to-liquids kerosene fuel. “Reducing the airline’s carbon footprint by running our aircraft solely on GTL fuel will set a new standard in international aviation, making Qatar Airways the greenest airline in the world. We are extremely proud to be at the forefront of this movement,” concluded Al Baker.
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