Qatar Airways posts sky-high growth
Web posted at: 3/4/2002 3:32:21
Source ::: The Peninsula
DOHA: Qatar Airways, acclaimed as one of the fastest growing air carriers in the world, witnessed a record 29 per cent growth over the last five years, the airline’s CEO, Akbar Al Baker, disclosed yesterday. During the forthcoming financial year 2002-2003, the airline hopes to exceed this record to post a 40 per cent growth, he added.
Qatar Airways underwent a complete change of its corporate image in 1997. This is the fifth year of its operation under the new corporate colours. Over the years, the airline has opened several new routes from Doha, while augmenting its fleet with Airbus aircraft.
Revealing future plans for expansion of Qatar’s national carrier, Akbar said the airline has embarked on a plan which will see its operations shoot up by some 60 per cent, while its fleet will increase to 25 aircraft, by the end of the year 2004. He also announced the launch of three new routes by Qatar Airways — Casablanca, Milan and Riyadh.
Qatar Airways, he said, will offer three weekly fights between Doha and the Moroccoan resort, Casablanca, on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, beginning May 31. The airline will also offer four weekly flights between Doha and the Italian city, Milan, Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with the maiden flight scheduled to take off on June 6. Also, Qatar Airways will launch two weekly flights between Doha and the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, on April 1. The Doha-Riyadh flights will be offered every Monday and Thursday, he added.
He attributed the massive growth of the airline to factors such as its enhanced standards and implementation of concepts, that are considered as pioneering ones, in the global airline industry. “Since Qatar Airways is a small airline it is easier for us to implement changes,” he said. He noted that Qatar Airways is currently the only GCC-based carrier that employs women pilots.
The airline, he said, is expected to receive its first Airbus A 330-200 aircraft by May 7. The aircraft is currently under manufacture at Toulouse, the headquarters of the European aircraft consortium, Airbus Industrie. The second such aircraft is expected to join the Qatar Airways fleet in July.
Two more of these aircraft will be delivered in March next year and a fifth in February 2004. These aircraft are being delivered under a $1.3bn deal between Qatar Airways and Airbus Industrie. The airline reserves the option of ordering three more aircraft of the same make, he added.
The new Airbus A 330-200 aircraft have a configuration for 12 First class, 18 Business class and 206 Economy class seats. In addition, they incorporate some state-of-the-art, passenger friendly features for enhanced travel comfort, he added. Qatar Airways’ plans to augment its all-Airbus fleet includes procuring the newly developed, ultra-capacity Airbus A 380s and the corporate jetliner, the Airbus ACJ 319, the CEO said.
Asked about Qatar Airways’ role in promoting Qatar as an inbound tourism destination, Akbar said the airline will play a pivotal role, pointing out that Qatar Airways, by its own initiative, is also promoting Qatar as a destination, through its subsidiary, Qatar Airways Holidays, whose offices are expected to open later this month.
He revealed that since October, Qatar Airways Holidays had carried some 2,000 tourists from Qatar to various destinations.
Meanwhile, Qatar Airways also plans to sign more code-share agreements with other carriers, as part of its expansion programmes as well as launch flights to new destinations. The airline had also sent a team to evaluate acquisition of shares in Sudan Airways, he added.
Doha-Kochi direct flights
DOHA: Qatar Airways is keen to operate flights between Doha and Kochi. However, the main hurdle in the launch of such flights is the delay by the Indian government in granting rights to the airline for such flights, the Qatar Airways chief executive officer, Akbar Al Baker, said yesterday.
According to Akbar, an application by Qatar Airways to operate flights to the Nedumbassery International Airport, Kochi, was already sent to the Indian civil aviation authorities. However, he noted that the Indian government had not yet opened up its airspace to foreign carriers, apparently to protect its own national carriers.
Currently, only Air India, the Indian flag carrier, offers direct flights between Doha and Kochi. The airline offers three-weekly direct flights from Doha and also some indirect ones via its hub in Mumbai. The other Indian carrier, Indian Airlines, had also offered Doha-Kochi flights but later pulled out from the route.
DOHA: Easier procedures for procuring visit visas on arrival will help develop Qatar and its national carrier, Qatar Airways, other airlines operating to Doha and the local hospitality industry, the Qatar Airways’ chief executive officer, Akbar Al Baker, said yesterday.
Speaking to the media, Akbar said the existing procedures for procuring visit visas were not passenger friendly and hence, not upto the expectations of the airline.
The lengthy procedures involved in procuring these visas, he said, is having an adverse and negative impact not merely on Qatar Airways, but also on the country.
Akbar called for a more efficient and passenger-friendly visa procedure to be adopted since it will facilitate more tourists to visit Qatar and hence benefit the entire travel and hospitality trade here.
Meanwhile, the CEO said that Qatar Airways faced only a minimal impact of the crises that shook the global aviation industry following the September 11 terror attacks on the US last year and its aftermath. He attributed it to the limited assets deployed by the airline in Western markets, such as Europe.