Qatar Airways in major expansion
Qatar Airways has embarked on a major expansion which includes acquiring new aircraft worth $750 million, and achieving a 40 per cent increase in passenger growth. The airline, with a 13 aircraft fleet, plans a gradual addition of 20 new destinations to expand its operational network to 50.
Fleet enhancement will grow it to 25 aircraft by 2004, said Akbar Al Baker, chief executive. It is to get five A330-200 aircraft with three more on option. The first aircraft is expected by May 7, with the second in July.
Two more will be delivered in March 2003 and the fifth in February 2004. These aircraft will have configurations of first, business and economy with 12, 18 and 206 seats.
Qatar Airways is also the first customer for the A380 that will be delivered in 2007, as its production has been delayed by Airbus Industrie.
At the opening of two new offices in Kuala Lampur and Jakarta, Al Baker said the carrier has realised a passenger growth of 31 per cent in February over last year's. "It means Qatar Airways has been successful in avoiding the repercussion of September 11," he said.
Qatar Airways, which has a codeshare agreement with Malaysia Airlines, wants to make Kuala Lumpur its hub in the Far East.
It started flying into Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta three months ago. "Our flights are flying with 100 per cent load factor and we are planning to operate daily flights between Doha and Kuala Lumpur."
The airline underwent a complete change of its corporate image in 1997. The carrier witnessed a 29 per cent growth over the last five years.
Al Baker attributes the fast growth to enhanced standards and implementation of new concepts. Qatar Airways, he said, is the only airline in the GCC that employs female pilots.
The airline, which started in 1994, is flying to 30 cities. Three new routes are to be added in coming weeks.
The airline will offer three flights a week to Casablanca from Doha every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, from May 31.
The Italian city of Milan will served with four flights a week from the Qatari capital every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, starting June 6. Riyadh, will be linked with Doha by two flights a week on every Monday ad Thursday, from April 1.
Al Baker said Qatar Airways has been playing an important role in promoting Qatar as a holiday destination. There are plans to open a dedicated tourism section Qatar Holidays later this month.
Doha International Airport has also witnessed a major expansion plan, with capacity increasing from 1.2 million passengers to 5 million passengers. Construction of a new terminal has started, with completion set for 2006.
SOURCE: GULF NEWS 12/03/2002