Myanmar and Iraq are among the highlights of Qatar Airways’ announcement yesterday of launch dates for new routes in the Middle East, Africa and Asia with capacity hikes being introduced to a number of other international destinations from the carrier’s Doha hub.
Speaking at Arabian Travel Market (ATM), Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker unveiled the expansion plans covering a wide network of markets across the carrier’s global network.
Scheduled flights to Iraq will begin on May 23 with Erbil in the north, followed two weeks later by services to the capital Baghdad on June 7. Each route will be served with four-flights-a-week non-stop from Doha.
Effective July 25, the airline will launch flights to Kilimanjaro, its second gateway in Tanzania. The daily services will operate via Nairobi.
Beginning August 15, Qatar Airways introduces its third African destination of 2012 with the launch of flights to the holiday centre of Mombasa – its second point in Kenya after the capital Nairobi. Each of the daily services will operate via the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam. In March, Qatar Airways began flights to Rwanda’s capital city of Kigali, the carrier‘s first African route of the year.
And starting October 3, Qatar Airways resumes operations to Myanmar following a four-year absence on the route, linking Doha with the capital Yangon. With political reform taking place in Myanmar at a rapid pace, interest in the South East Asian country has gathered momentum from both a business and tourism perspective.
New route Perth is experiencing excellent sales for its thrice-weekly flights which begin on July 3 – the carrier’s second Australian gateway after Melbourne. The Perth route goes daily in December at the peak of the holiday season.
Qatar Airways has already launched flights to the European capital cities of Baku in Azerbaijan and Tbilisi in Georgia. Starting May 9, the airline’s European expansion continues with daily flights to the Croatian capital Zagreb, operating via Budapest. Further route launches are planned to Belgrade in Serbia, the Finnish capital Helsinki and Zanzibar in Tanzania.
In line with the airline’s strategy to increase frequency on existing routes to offer passengers more choice, Qatar Airways is also stepping up capacity to selected destinations in phases.
In Asia, the Kuala Lumpur route will be served three-times daily from September, up from the recently-expanded capacity of 17 flights each week.
In Europe, the Doha–Milan route will be upgraded to double daily this month from the current 11-a-week. In December, the Doha–Paris route will have an additional two flights taking frequency up to 18 services-a-week.
In the Middle East, three routes will benefit from additional capacity. Kuwait last month saw the introduction of a new daily flight taking frequency up to 49 services each week. From June, an extra seven flights will be operated on the route taking capacity up to 56 services – eight daily round-trip flights every week.
Also in June, the Doha–Abu Dhabi route will go up to 42 flights each week with the introduction of a new daily service offering in total six daily flights.
Having introduced two extra weekly flights on the Doha – Cairo route last month to take frequency up to 11 each week, capacity will be stepped up further next month with the addition of one extra flight a week.
And in Africa, more capacity will be introduced on the double daily Doha–Dar es Salaam route from next month. With seven services operating via Nairobi, these will become non-stop to Dar es Salaam effectively providing more seats direct to the Tanzanian capital.
“Today’s announcement reflects the importance Qatar Airways places on expanding its portfolio of destinations and frequency on existing routes to provide passengers with more choice, more flexibility and more travel options,” said Al Baker, addressing a packed press conference at the Dubai Convention and Exhibition Centre.
“We are entering new markets and strengthening our presence in established markets to provide a greater footprint. In particular, we are focusing on markets that are in need of extra capacity.
“The changing political landscape in Myanmar presents tremendous business opportunities and Qatar Airways is extremely delighted to be re-entering this wonderful destination that clearly will be one of the hottest markets in Asia for travellers from across our diverse international network.
“Iraq too provides many opportunities as infrastructure improvements taking place across the country prompt more international travel to support economic reform.”
Added Al Baker: “This year alone will see Qatar Airways take delivery of one new aircraft every 15 days, so there are plenty of opportunities to look at inducting them into service on both new and well established routes.”
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