New Airport to Boost Qatar Airways Growth

May 06--Qatar Airways on Monday announced its expansion plans and its chief executive officer Akbar Al Baker said the new airport would boost the airline growth.

On the first day of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai, Al Baker confirmed that its Saudi subsidiary Al Maha Airways will start domestic operations by the end of 2014 and also indicated that the subsidiary might start international operations later on.

Citing the reasons for the delay, he said it's all because of non-availability of aircraft.

Al Maha Airways plans to have 10 A320 aircraft in service within the first 12 months of operations. A CEO has been appointed to run the new operation and will operate eight A320s in the Kingdom. "At the moment we are filing for our AOC and hopefully this will be issued imminently," he added.

He disclosed that Qatar Airways is now fully government owned after the country's sovereign fund bought a 50 per cent stake from Qatar's former prime minister and other shareholders. "We became fully government owned in July last year," Al Baker said at the news conference.

During the Press conference, Al Baker gave Middle East and international media an update on the newly opened Hamad International Airport and the airline's highly anticipated arrival of its first Airbus A380-800 early June, the first of 13 such on order. "Our growth was blocked by the capacity of the current airport and new airport will help us for significant growth," he said.

The airline's new A380 luxury First Class seats are a key feature on its exhibition stand at ATM this week providing travel professionals from around the world with an opportunity to sample the seats and amenities.

"Qatar Airways is making news yet again with the newly opened Hamad International Airport and the anticipated arrival of the airline's first A380 early next month.

"This is indeed an exciting year and a new chapter for Qatar Airways as we will move our entire hub operations to Hamad International Airport on 27 May.

"We also eagerly await the delivery of the world's largest passenger jet and have no doubts that our new A380s will play a key role in our strategic expansion plans, and will help expand the onboard capacity -- in the full comfort and luxury that our passengers expect," said Al Baker.

During ATM, the airline's CEO introduced the A380's new First Class seat to the Middle East for the first time.

Al Baker also showed glimpses of its amazingly designed A380 First and Business Class lounge and bathroom interiors to the Middle East media audience.

It is the "Year of the Fleet" for Qatar Airways as the airline has plans to significantly expand its fleet with 300 additional aircraft, worth more than $60 billion, on order including, 80 Airbus A350s, 13 Airbus A330 Freighters, 60 Boeing 787s, 13 Boeing 777s (including freighters), 50 Boeing 777x, 80 Airbus A320s Neos and 13 Airbus A380-800s.

Qatar Airways is also the first Airbus customer to receive the newly-launched Airbus A350 long-range, twin-engine, wide-bodied jet.

The airline is also introducing a new daily all premium Business Class service from its hub in Doha to London Heathrow. The new service, the first of its kind in the Middle East, will start from May 15.

Copyright 2014 - Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates