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Posted On: 25 February 2009 09:18 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:09 pm

No stopping QA expansion: chief

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QATAR Airways will keep adding more aircraft and new destinations, its chief executive Akbar al-Baker has said. “We will continue to expand in terms of fleet size and network. The global economic downturn will not alter our plans,” al-Baker said after receiving the national carrier’s second Boeing 777-200LR here yesterday. He said the airline would receive on average one new aircraft every month over the next few years. Currently, the national carrier has 67 aircraft, a mix of Boeings and Airbuses. In November 2007, Qatar Airways placed orders for up to 32 Boeing 777 passenger and cargo aircraft, comprising 14 of the 777-300ER variant, six 777-200LRs and seven 777-200 freighters. There are options for a further five Boeing 777s. With seven Boeing 777s currently flying in Qatar Airways’ colours, the remaining 25 will be delivered within two years and the aircraft will form the backbone of the airline’s long-haul fleet of the future. The two Boeing 777 passenger variants will facilitate a major expansion in the airline’s long haul network. Qatar Airways’ second Boeing 777-200LR was earlier given full certification and clearance to leave Boeing’s Delivery Flight Centre in Seattle, Washington, for the near 15-hour journey to its new home in Doha. The Boeing 777-200LR features 259 seats – 42 in business class and 217 in economy. Al-Baker announced that the aircraft would be officially named “Gaza” in solidarity with civilian victims in the recent conflict in the Palestinian territory. “I know many of us have been deeply touched by the civilian deaths in the recent bombing of Gaza. “Qatar Airways wants to recognise that innocent people, and in particular large numbers of children, were killed in these bomb attacks, and naming our latest aircraft ‘Gaza’ is a symbolic gesture to commemorate and honour these victims. “The name ‘Gaza’ will fly around the world on Qatar Airways and spread a message of peace and humanity. Qatar Airways customarily names each of its aircraft after place names within Qatar. But we have made an exception in this case,” he added. At the start of February, Qatar Airways offered its support to the “One Million Candles campaign”, an initiative launched by British resident Manal Timraz, originally from Palestine, in response to the death of 15 of her family members in a single bomb attack on the Gaza Strip. Twelve of those who died were children – the woman’s nieces and nephews. Timraz asked that people donate candles to remember the loss of lives on the West Bank and as a peaceful but powerful signal that public opinion in Britain is against such attacks where innocent victims were killed unnecessarily. Qatar Airways and Qatar Airways Cargo offered to transport the candles from Britain to the Middle East. “Qatar Airways feels compelled to offer its support to the One Million Candles campaign, as it sends a peaceful message of support,” added al-Baker. Earlier this month, Qatar Airways took delivery of its first Boeing 777-200LR aircraft, which is capable of flying on ultra long-haul routes of up to 17 hours non-stop – effectively to any key business or leisure destination in the world from Doha. The long-range Boeings will be paired to operate Qatar Airways’ newest route to the United States – the Doha-Houston route is scheduled for launch on March 30. Daily scheduled flights will bridge the two cities offering passengers “excellent connections” beyond Houston to cities across the US and beyond Doha to destinations in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and Far East. “Just three weeks ago Qatar Airways celebrated the arrival of its first Boeing 777-200 Long Range aircraft – our sixth Boeing 777 overall since deliveries began in November 2007,” he said.