A world of exciting holidays

Qatar Airways ... flying high.

Qatar Airways Holidays has launched packages to some 26 cities and resorts. The tour operator says it will also be the first in the region to offer many interline destinations as well as winter ski packages.

Chief of Qatar Airways Holidays, Mark Senior, said the holidays division was launched in May following feedback from the airline's offices throughout the network that indicated that customers were feeling the absence of a holidays segment to the route operations.

"Our strategy is to provide incremental business for Qatar Airways. We know that we have many loyal customers who like our product in the air. We now need to offer them complete leisure packages with excellent value for money, so as to retain them for their holiday travel needs," said Senior.

The division is in the process of preparing 50 sales leaflets for this summer, profiling the packages and focusing on simple, easy-to-understand pricing structures.

The offers outlined will be flexible where possible in meeting with the division's objectives, Senior added.

A brochure will be brought out later in the year.

"We are also the first airline tour operator in the region to offer many interline destinations, working with other quality carriers. This means that newly requested destinations such as Spain and Ireland are also being included," he said.

"It's midway through the main summer holiday season and bookings to many destinations using Qatar Airways and partner airlines are going very well."

According to Senior, Dubai is the most popular destination, while other frequently requested destinations have been London, Paris, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Beirut and Amman. The division has also arranged packages to south India and plans to organise one for north India.

Also offered are free car hires in Dubai, Muscat and Abu Dhabi.

"As part of our product development we have become the first Gulf airline tour operator to aggressively feature holidays to Austria, which is becoming increasingly popular among Qataris," he said.

Vienna packages are offered at prices starting at QR2,995 ($822) for seven nights in a four-star hotel including flights via Munich.

An additional Arabic/English-speaking sales consultant has been added to the sales team to ensure that holiday package quotations are turned around quickly.

The next stage of developments for Qatar Airways Holidays will be the launch of autumn/winter packages to many current destinations and others such as the Maldives, Indonesia and Australia.

"Qatar Airways Holidays again aims to be the first Gulf airline tour operator to feature and exciting range of winter ski packages to Europe and the Middle East," revealed Senior.

New flights Qatar Airways is introducing will extend its network to Male in the Maldives (beginning December 18) and Kuala Lumpur (December 17).

The new Doha-Male flights operated by A320 aircraft will run thrice weekly with convenient connections to Qatar Airways' European destinations - London, Munich and Paris. The Doha-Kuala Lumpur operation will also have a three-times-a-week schedule.

Qatar Airways has been steadily expanding its route network since its relaunch in 1997 under the leadership of CEO Akbar Al Baker and is now a recognised regional and international carrier operating from its Doha hub.

Currently serving 28 destinations in Europe, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent and Asia, the airline operates six Airbus A300-60R aircraft on international and medium-haul routes and four Airbus A320s on short and medium-haul services.

The airline recently announced orders for five new Airbus A330-200s with an option on three more aircraft. The first of these will join the fleet in April 2002.

The airline became the ninth customer for the newly developed ultra-large Airbus A380 of which two have been ordered with an option on a further two.

The carrier also became the first airline customer for the Airbus Corporate Jetliner (ACJ), placing a firm offer for one aircraft and taking an option on another.

The airline plans to use the ACJ on a mix of private charters and scheduled services from its Doha base to destinations such as London and Singapore.

Qatar Airways has a codeshare agreement with Lufthansa from Munich to Manchester, Vienna and Zurich as well as a reciprocal arrangement with its frequent flyer programme "Miles and More".

A new airport is being built adjacent to the existing one at Doha to serve as the hub for Qatar Airways. The carrier has had its headquarters in the Qatari capital refurbished with a ground floor office allocated for its holidays division.