Qatar Airways launched its flight to the Australian city of Melbourne on Sunday night.
On board the maiden flight QR030 from Doha was the airline’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Akbar Al Baker, who led a high-profile delegation, including the Australian Ambassador to the UAE and Qatar, Doug Trappett, international media representatives and senior company executives.
Qatar Airways is operating its newest aircraft — a Boeing 777-200LR delivered less than four weeks ago — on the route, flying initially thrice a week on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Victorian Government Minister of Tourism and Major Events, Tim Holding, provided an official welcome to Qatar Airways at the State Government Offices in Melbourne, where a joint press conference was held yesterday.
Addressing the media, Al Baker said: “We have been eagerly planning our entry into the Australian market for several years — and we are delighted to finally arrive here in Melbourne.
“Qatar Airways would like to extend its appreciation and thanks to Australian authorities who have worked tirelessly to pave the way for Qatar Airways to begin its operations.
“We have been in Australia for a number of years as an offline carrier with a sales office in the heart of the city of Melbourne, but this day marks a historic moment as we extend our Five Star hospitality to yet another continent in our global network. We also look forward to starting flights to Sydney next year”, Al Baker said.
The launch of flights to Melbourne ahead of the busy holiday season ends a year of further growth for the airline.
“Qatar Airways also launched services to Houston and both Amritsar and Goa in India during 2009. Australians are well travelled and we are delighted to facilitate travel to and from Melbourne to many cities worldwide via our Doha hub in Qatar, whether people are travelling on business or leisure,” he said.
The launch of flights to Melbourne ahead of the busy holiday season ends a year of further growth for the airline, which also launched services to Houston and both Amritsar and Goa in India during 2009.
Added Al Baker: “We are entering the Australian market at a time of continued growth for an airline despite the current economic climate when many airlines worldwide are consolidating and retrenching.
“Our strategy is long-term, maintaining our expansion plans to meet demand and this will remain unaffected despite the events around us.
With over 220 aircraft worth more than $40bn on order for delivery over the next few years, as well as a brand new airport under construction in the airline’s home city of Doha, Qatar Airways is moving from strength to strength.
Al Baker said that Qatar Airways was looking forward to establishing a strong foothold in the Australian market, aiming to do so with the quickest scheduled flight times between Melbourne and London, its biggest market.
At 21 hours, 40 minutes, including a short transit in Doha, Qatar Airways will offer Melbournians the most convenient and fastest way of travelling to the UK.
Minister Tim Holding said it was a fantastic milestone for Victoria’s tourism industry and for Melbourne as a leading gateway city to Australia to welcome Qatar’s national carrier to the city.
The Brumby Government is working to increase international air services, which bring more tourists to Melbourne, boost our economy and create jobs for local people, he said.