The FINANCIAL — Qatar Airways is nearing the 70 aircraft mark following the addition of the latest Boeing 777-300 Extended Range, which has arrived in Doha. The new commercial passenger jet is the third Boeing 777 delivery in four weeks and brings the total number in the national carrier’s fleet to 68 Boeing and Airbus aircraft.
In the course of the last two years, a massive expansion programme implemented at the airline has seen Qatar Airways increase its route network and aircraft numbers by around 25%, with passenger numbers growing an average of 35% year on year for the past decade.
According to Qatar Airways, the expansion has also meant further extensions of Doha International Airport to cope with the increasing volumes of traffic generated by Qatar Airways rapid growth. The airline is due to move to its new home, New Doha International Airport, in 2012.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker commended Boeing for resuming its delivery schedule following delays last year which forced the airline to hold back on launching its Houston route, the airline’s third connection to the United States.
“We are very happy that Boeing has committed to delivering on average one aircraft a month for at least the next year. Qatar Airways places huge importance on providing its customers with the latest and best services including the newest aircraft. Qatar Airways’ average aircraft age is less than four years old and as more aircraft join the fleet the average age will be even younger.
“With new acquisitions to the fleet, the airline is looking forward to being able to launch a host of new routes and also boost capacity on our underserved routes,” he said.
Al Baker also highlighted that the expansion of the airline is being driven by demand, and that its growth has been organic.
“Our expansion, though occurring rapidly, is very calculated and measured. We will not enter into situations that do not make economic sense. We are very conscious of the current global economy, and are using our strong financial position to explore opportunities where other airlines may not have the financial strength to compete,” he said.
The additional aircraft – Qatar Airways’ eighth Boeing 777 – keeps the airline well on course of its remarkable expansion with an average of one new plane joining the burgeoning fleet every month over the next few years.
In February, Qatar Airways took delivery of the first two Boeing 777-200 Long Range aircraft, of which it has six on order. The aircraft is capable of flying on ultra long-haul routes of up to 17 hours non-stop – effectively to any key business or leisure destination in the world from Doha.
The long range Boeing 777s will be paired to operate Qatar Airways’ newest route to the United States. The Doha – Houston route, linking the energy capitals of the world is scheduled for launch on March 30.
Daily scheduled flights will bridge the two cities offering passengers with excellent connections beyond Houston to cities across the US and beyond Doha to destinations in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and Far East.