DUBAI– Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Mr. Akbar Al Baker announced the airline’s expansion plans on the opening day(May 5th) of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2014.
During a packed press conference at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre, Al Baker gave Middle East and international media an update on the newly opened Hamad International Airport and the airline’s highly anticipated arrival of its first Airbus A380-800 early June, the first of 13 such on order.
The airline’s new A380 luxury First Class seats are a key feature on its exhibition stand at ATM this week providing travel professionals from around the world with an opportunity to sample the seats and amenities.
Featuring a tri-class configuration of seating in First, Business and Economy, over two decks, the A380 is the largest passenger jet in the world and will provide a superior traveller experience to the airline’s customers.
“Qatar Airways is making news yet again with the newly opened Hamad International Airport and the anticipated arrival of the airline’s first A380 early next month.
“This is indeed an exciting year and a new chapter for Qatar Airways as we will move our entire hub operations to Hamad International Airport on 27 May.
“We also eagerly await the delivery of the world’s largest passenger jet and have no doubts that our new A380s will play a key role in our strategic expansion plans, and will help expand the onboard capacity – in the full comfort and luxury that our passengers expect,” said Mr. Al Baker.
During ATM, the airline’s CEO introduced the A380’s new First Class seat to the Middle East for the first time. The product offers a seat pitch just over 2.2 meters long and can be converted into a fully flat bed. In addition, the seat unit, the widest in the industry, allows for access to a 26-inch screen with a variety of entertainment options. There is also a privacy screen, increased personal storage as well as the ability for two passengers to sit across from each other while dining.
Mr. Al Baker also showed glimpses of its amazingly designed A380 First and Business Class lounge and bathroom interiors to the Middle East media audience.
It is the “Year of the Fleet” for Qatar Airways as the airline has plans to significantly expand its fleet with 300 additional aircraft, worth more than USD $60 billion, on order including, 80 Airbus A350s, 13 Airbus A330 Freighters, 60 Boeing 787s, 13 Boeing 777s (including freighters), 50 Boeing 777x, 80 Airbus A320s Neos and 13 Airbus A380-800s.
Qatar Airways is also the first Airbus customer to receive the newly-launched Airbus A350 long-range, twin-engine, wide-bodied jet. This new airliner represents the latest generation of passenger aircraft, designed for optimized fuel consumption, lower operating costs, and increased environmental efficiencies. Qatar Airways’ first A350 was showcased at the Singapore Air Show after a high-profile delivery event at the Hamad International Airport, Doha, Qatar, earlier this year.
The airline is also introducing a new daily all premium Business Class service from its hub in Doha to London Heathrow. The new service will be the first of its kind in the Middle East, commencing from 15 May, with an Airbus A319 aircraft fitted with an all Business Class, single aisle, 2–2 seating configuration offering 40 seats.
Qatar Airways, the national carrier for the State of Qatar, has seen rapid growth in just 17 years of operation, to the point where today it is flying a modern fleet of 134 aircraft to 138 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.
Over the next few months, the network will grow further with Al Hofuf, Saudi Arabia (May 15), Istanbul SabihaGökçen Airport, Turkey (May 22, 2014), Edinburgh, Scotland (May 28, 2014), Miami, USA (June 10, 2014), Haneda, Japan (June 18, 2014), Dallas/Fort Worth, USA (July 1, 2014) and Djibouti (July 27, 2014).
Complementing its global expansion, Qatar Airways is also commencing its domestic operations within Saudi Arabia, and is on track to launch its new airline, Al Maha,in November. Al Maha Airways plans to have 10 A320aircraftin service within the first 12 months of operations.