By Andy Sambidge
Iraq, Tanzania, Serbia among new passenger routes while freight expansion also planned
Qatar Airways has announced further expansion of its international network with five new passenger routes, more cargo services and capacity increases to a number of destinations.
Iraq, Tanzania, Serbia and Myanmar are featured in the passenger route expansion programme over a six-month period starting in May.
New freighter services will be introduced to Korea, Pakistan, South Africa and Oman, while frequency of passenger flights will be stepped up to destinations in Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific.
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker announced the expansion at ITB Berlin, the world's largest travel show taking place in the German capital this week.
Two destinations in Iraq - the northern city of Erbil and capital Baghdad - will be introduced to the carrier's Middle East network in May and June respectively.
Qatar Airways will induct a second Tanzanian point to its African map with the launch of flights to Kilimanjaro.
The Serbian capital Belgrade becomes the newest addition to the carrier's European portfolio in September and the airline returns to Myanmar, serving the capital city Yangon from October after a four-year absence.
The announcement follows previously announced start-ups to a number of other international destinations during 2012, including the Rwandan capital Kigali, Zagreb, Perth, Mombasa, Helsinki, and Gassim in Saudi Arabia.
In addition, Qatar Airways announced an expansion to its dedicated freighter services with four new routes - Karachi (Pakistan), Seoul (Korea), Johannesburg (South Africa) and Muscat (Oman), to be phased in from March 26.
The carrier currently operates a fleet of six freighters to 33 destinations worldwide.
Qatar Airways said it is also stepping up the number of flights across its network in phases from March 25.
In Asia, the Kuala Lumpur route will be expanded from double daily to 17 services each week, while the daily Jakarta service will gain three additional flights taking capacity up to 10-a-week.
In Europe, a fifth daily flight will be introduced on the Doha-London Heathrow route while flights to Milan will be stepped up from 11 flights each week to double daily.
In North Africa, services to Algiers will increase from seven to 11 services each week, while the Egyptian capital Cairo will have an additional three flights taking frequency up to 12 a week.
Three destinations in the Gulf will be boosted with additional capacity. The Kuwait route will have 13 additional flights taking frequency up from 42 to 55 flights a week, while frequency to the Omani capital of Muscat will be stepped up from 24 to 31 services each week.
Abu Dhabi, capital city of the United Arab Emirates, will secure an additional daily flight, seeing capacity rise from 35 to 42 flights every week (six daily).
"Today's announcement reflects the importance Qatar Airways places on expanding its portfolio of passenger and cargo destinations, and offer more frequency on existing routes to provide more choice, more flexibility and more options," said Al Baker.
"We are entering new passenger and cargo markets where we see a need for more air services, particularly where such markets are under served and in need for extra capacity.
"This year alone will see Qatar Airways take delivery of one new aircraft every 15 days, so as we bring them in, they will quickly be inducted into service and we will continue to look at new opportunities."
Qatar Airways currently operates a fleet of 105 aircraft to 112 destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.
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