Qatar Airways launches four routes; eyes 60 destinations


Qatar Airways has launched four new routes in the past month as part of its continuing ambitious expansion programme which targets 60 destinations by 2004.

Beginning with Casablanca in Morocco on May 31, Qatar Airways has added Milan and Frankfurt in Europe and Sanaa, Yemen, to its route network.

The airline also plans to begin operations to Sharjah as its third online point in the UAE from August. The addition of the two weekly flights to Sharjah on August 2, will take the total weekly operations to the UAE to 52. The emirate will also become the 35th destination on the airline's network.

The airline is offering three weekly flights to Casablanca and Sanaa from its Doha hub while it is offering four flights a week to Milan and Frankfurt.

The route expansion is continuing along with a fleet expansion which saw the airline receiving its first new Airbus A330-200 aircraft in May.

The A330-200 is part of a $1.4 billion deal with the European aircraft maker for four of the ultra-modern jets. The second is due to be delivered on July 19.

The airline's chief executive Akbar Al Baker has charged an ambitious expansion plan which aims to increase its fleet to 31 planes and route network to 60 destinations by the end of 2002.

Qatar Airways has also begun a massive project to build a new airport in Doha at a cost of more than $1 billion in time for the 2006 Asian Games in the country.

It recently opened a $2.2 million aircraft wheels and brakes overhaul facility at the Doha airport to undertake repair and overhaul of wheels and brakes used on all Airbus aircraft types that it currently operates.

Al Baker said the workshop would mean significant savings for the airline in terms of money and time.

The airline spends about $6 million a year on repair and overhaul of wheels and brakes and it takes about a week before a component reaches Doha after repairing or overhauling abroad, Al Baker said.