Qatar Airways announced on Wednesday 5 March 2008 it has plans to add Houston, Texas, to its current US destinations of Washington and New York, starting November 10.
The airline will start off by operating the Doha-Houston route non-stop three times a week using Boeing 777-200LR aircraft. Frequency will upgrade to daily by December. The Boeing 777-200LR has the capability of flying 17 hours straight and the flight to Houston will make it one of the world's longest non-stop trips.
The announcement was made at a press conference by Akbar Al-Baker, Qatar Airways CEO, on the opening day of ITB Berlin, the world's largest travel fair.
The Houston service will come as a boon to the many energy company employees here linking as it does two cities whose economies are driven by oil and gas. Employees not only of US energy firms, but Qatari ones as well, frequently travel to Houston for training, refresher courses or high-level meetings. Houston is home to more than 5,000 energy-related businesses.
The Boeing 777-200LRs used in the Houston route will have a two-class configuration of 42 seats in Business Class and 217 seats in Economy. Business Class has a 2-2-2 seating configuration and Economy Class, 3-3-3 seating.
The airline currently operates two Boeing 777-300ER aircraft on the Washington route non-stop, but takes delivery of its first Boeing 777-200LR in November 2008, following which it will be inducted on the Houston route.
Flight QR077 to Houston will depart Doha on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 1.20am and arrive in Houston at 9.15am. Flight QR078 out of Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport will depart at 12.15pm and arrive in Doha at 12.10pm the following day.
The airline also unveiled its summer 2008 expansion programme to several destinations and the launch of its fourth destination in China, Guangzhou from March 31.
Expansion highlights include an extra daily flight to London Heathrow taking capacity to four flights a day. Beirut will now be served double daily and Johannesburg and Seoul will now have daily flights.
"Qatar Airways is committed to a growth strategy that will see our fleet of 62 aircraft increase to 70 by the end of the year and almost double to 110 planes by 2013. As we take delivery of more aircraft, we are able to consolidate our position by increasing frequency on existing routes and introducing new routes to give passengers greater choice," Al-Baker explained.
Speaking on the airline's order book, Al-Baker said: "We have more than 200 outstanding orders for brand new aircraft, which include 80 of Airbus' next generation A350s and 60 Boeing 787s. Our aircraft delivery schedules will increase to at least one a month from July."
Frequencies to Bahrain will be increased from 40 a week to 41 starting March 30 and to Geneva from five a week to six, beginning May 5.
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