By Andy Sambidge
Company says it wants to increase number of destinations from 83 to up to 150.
A top official at Qatar Airways has revealed plans for the carrier to almost double its number of destinations to 150.
Ali al-Rais, executive vice-president of the airline, said Qatar Airways would in time consider adding more destinations in North America, South America and Australia, among others.
Qatar Airways currently serves 83 destinations, including New York and Washington, and next year will fly to Houston, Texas, reported Qatar daily Gulf Times on Thursday.
Qatar Airways has a fleet of more than 60 planes and has about 200 new planes on order.
“We are aiming very high,” al-Rais told the paper. “We’d probably settle for 120 to 150 destinations worldwide eventually.”
He said Qatar Airways was pressing ahead with its expansion despite the global economic slowdown.
“There is a bit of uncertainty – still, Asia is doing very well,” he added.
His positive comments come as Middle East carriers were warned that they face a turbulent year in 2009, with losses expected to double amid the worst revenue environment for 50 years.
Aviation body IATA has predicted $2.5 billion losses next year for the global airline industry – the biggest drop in revenue since 1958.
The organisation also said Gulf carriers will report $200 million losses next year as the economic downturn and lower passenger demand take effect.
“The outlook is bleak,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s director general and CEO.
Rais said he had seen no signs of slower bookings for Qatar Airways.
“I have been watching our numbers very carefully and I have not seen the numbers actually changing – they have been consistent,” he said.
During 2007, Qatar Airways ordered 80 Airbus A350s, together with 60 Boeing 787s and 32 Boeing 777s. It has ordered five of the twin-deck Airbus A380 ‘super jumbos’ for delivery from 2010.
Doesn't matter how many routes or new plans Qatar adds, the fact is once you travel on them once you realize they don't have their act together. They clearly have worse service than Emirates or Etihad.
I have frequently used Qatar and Emirates over the past year and can categorically state that I would prefer Qatar every time. I would like Mr Roy to expand on his claim above with some specifics, just not vague statements. Here's some specifics from me. The last time I travelled on Emirates, my seat was changed for no reason, despite checking in online 24 hours earlier, choosing my preferred seat and having printed my own boarding card. The meals served were completely different from those on the menu which led to a lot of unhappy passengers, the entertainment system kept faltering, cabin crew were inattentive and the meals were not served until more than three hours into a lunchtime flight, which was too late. I could go on. I flew to London three days earlier on Qatar via Doha and the service was impeccable. Qatar fares are also very much cheaper than Emirates and they charge half price for a single fare, unlike Emirates who charge as much if not more than a return ticket for a single fare - something I just cannot understand. Their airmiles rewards scheme is more generous and if you are flying business class you use the amazing Doha premium terminal.