, PARIS, Aug 13 – Qatar Airways will begin operating to Australia before Christmas and in time for the holiday rush, airline Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker announced at the third day of the Paris Air Show.
The airline CEO said that Qatar Airways will launch Australian services initially to Melbourne and the inaugural flight will take place on December 6.
Qatar Airways will begin operating three weekly services using a brand new Boeing B777-200 Long Range aircraft to be delivered to the airline later this year. Operations will quickly become daily early in the New Year, following the delivery of a second long range Boeing – the airline’s fourth – from the aircraft manufacturer’s plant in Seattle, Washington.
Qatar Airways operates daily flights from Nairobi and Dar es Salaam to Doha with convenient onward connections to a network of over 80 destinations.
Passengers heading for Melbourne will have easy transfers at Doha Airport as the Nairobi services arrive two hours before the departure time for Melbourne.
Mr Al Baker said that he has been waiting patiently for Boeing to deliver aircraft that Qatar Airways has on order to begin operating the first of its two planned routes into Australia.
“I know the travelling public is eager for us to begin serving Australia and I’ve had many people ask me about our direct routes to Melbourne and Sydney. We’re finalising some details with regulatory authorities in Australia and once we’ve received the necessary aircraft from Boeing, we will be ready to operate,” Mr Al Baker.
“Qatar Airways already has 4,000 frequent fliers in Australia that are part of our loyalty programme, though the local market remains largely untapped. The Australian economy was one of the few in the world that grew in the first quarter of 2009, so this shows that the market there is still very strong, and we believe there is demand,” he added.
The new operation will connect travellers from Australia to the United Kingdom and Europe with a one-stop service and a planned one hour connection time in Doha. From Qatar Airways’ hub in Doha, passengers can also link to numerous destinations across South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.
Qatar Airways Country Manager Australia Brett McDougall said that the Australian market is active and the travelling public represents a huge cosmopolitan blend with ties to countries around the world.
“The public is ready for a five-star airline of Qatar Airways’ stature to enter the Australian market. Up until now our customers have had to travel to Asia to join our services. There is certainly a level anticipation from travellers who know the premium quality and service of the airline, and I’m confident that Qatar Airways will continue to match and exceed their expectations,” McDougall said.
In Britain, Qatar Airways Senior Manager Europe Paul Johannes said that the prospect of European passenger traffic connecting to the Australian services from Doha was good news for travellers.
“Qatar Airways is a well-established brand in the UK and key points in Europe, so we already have a built-in market in this region that will feed into Australia which is an important destination for a lot of Europeans,” he said.
The Boeing 777-200 Long Range aircraft operating on the route will offer a two-class configuration of 259 seats. In Business Class, there are 42 seats with passengers able to enjoy comfort and space offering a pitch of up to 78 inches with each seat converting into 180-degree fully flat beds. With a 2–2–2 seat configuration, Business Class passengers are assured of either a window or aisle seat and plenty of space.
In Economy Class, seat space is above the industry average with a pitch of up to 34 inches offering significant leg room, while the 217 seats in a 3-3-3 configuration.
In 2007, Qatar Airways placed orders for 14 Boeing 777-300ERs, six of the 777-200 Long Range variant and seven 777-200 freighters – all for scheduled delivery until mid-2010. There are options for a further five Boeing 777 aircraft. Four long range triple sevens will operate the Melbourne and Sydney routes.