By Andy Sambidge
Akbar Al Baker says keen to grow passenger, cargo routes in 'market full of confidence'
Qatar Airways is looking for further expansion opportunities in India for both passenger flights and cargo, the airline's CEO has said.
Akbar Al Baker said he was keen to develop more routes in India, stressing the importance of the "strong market".
He said: "This is a market that is strong and full of confidence. We are eyeing more opportunities here in India and look forward to developing our footprint further to give the travelling public a wider choice of services they deserve, and the cargo community more flights to ease the flow of goods, produce and other shipments to and from India."
Qatar Airways currently operates a total of 110 flights a week in India, a four-fold increase from just a few years ago.
"Having launched flights to Goa, Amritsar, Bengaluru and Kolkata over the past 24 months, our new routes have facilitated growing demand for more capacity to and from India," Al Baker added.
Qatar is India's largest supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG) while exports from India to Qatar centre on food, machinery, chemicals, jewellery and textiles.
Al Baker said India played a key role in Qatar Airways' infrastructure. The airline is a key employer of Indian nationals, who represent around 25 percent of the state-backed carrier's 20,000-strong workforce.
Kolkata joined the carrier's Indian routes in July with the launch of daily non-stop services from Doha, becoming its 12th passenger gateway in the country.
The Indian network covers daily flights to Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Goa, Hyderabad, Kozhikode, Trivandrum, Chennai, Bengaluru (Bangalore), with 11-flights-a-week to Cochin and double daily to the capital, Delhi.
During 2011, Qatar Airways has so far inducted 14 destinations into its network and will launch flights to Chongqing in China on Monday.
By 2013, Qatar Airways plans to serve over 120 destinations worldwide with a fleet of more than 120 aircraft.
As part of its aggressive growth plans, Qatar Airways placed orders for 90 aircraft at the recent Dubai Airshow.