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Sun 20 Nov 2011 08:20 AM

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Qatar Airways to roll out 15 new routes over a year

CEO of big-spending Gulf carrier says Perth, Belgrade among new destinations for 2012

Qatar Airways to roll out 15 new routes over a year
Qatar Airways iinked a $6.5bn Airbus deal at the Dubai show

Qatar Airways, the second-biggest Arab carrier, plans to
roll out up to 15 new routes over the next year in a bid to increase its share
of the lucrative long-haul market.

“We are going to add three more new destinations within a
few weeks into Iran so that we serve that very large market in a very strong
way,” CEO Akbar Al Baker told Arabian Business.

“We are also planning to go to Perth, Zagreb, Belgrade,
Kiev, Helsinki, St Petersburg and many other destinations within the next 12 months.
Fifteen new destinations in the next 12 months.”

Qatar Airways is one of the world’s largest buyers of new
aircraft, last week adding five Airbus A380 superjumbos and 50 A320neos to its
order book in a $6.5bn deal with Airbus.

The carrier’s massive order book underpins its plan to serve
more than 120 routes by 2013 with a 120-strong fleet, as it seeks to make Doha
an international transit hub.

The airline continues to focus on “relentless expansion,”
said Al Baker. “On average, every 18 days it is growing by one new aircraft,”
he said.

Qatar Airways in October requested permission to ply
domestic routes in Iran, a move that would have seen the Doha-based carrier
become the first foreign airline to operate in the Persian state.

The carrier already services routes between Doha and the
Iranian cities of Tehran, Shiraz and Mashhad, but Al Baker said he thought it
was unlikely to receive permission to operate domestically.

“Every airline in this region would love to operate
internally in Iran but we are not an Iranian carrier,” he said. “They have
their own carriers, they are serving the market. We are a foreign operator, we
cannot operate internally.

“There is an intention to [persuade] them to allow us, but I
don’t think the domestic carriers will accept. As far as we are concerned we
are only going to increase frequencies between Qatar and Iran, and add
destinations.”

Despite the carrier’s petrodollar-backed spending spree,
Qatar Airways has not been immune to rising fuel costs. Oil prices peaked in
April this year above $127 a barrel as the civil war in Libya cut the country's
oil exports.

Fuel typically accounts for about 40 percent of an airline’s
costs and, alongside slowing global travel demand, has squeezed margins at some
of the world’s largest carriers.

Emirates airline, the world’s largest airline, said an additional
$1bn in fuel costs had contributed to a 76 percent slump in half-year profit to
AED827m ($225m).

Qatar Airways is already hedging a percentage of its fuel
needs, Al Baker said.

[We have] a successful and efficient fuel hedging strategy….
up to 2013 we are hedged,” he said. “You have to take risk; it may be positive,
it may become negative, but you have to take the risk.”

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KL 7 years ago

What is the point of adding new destinations to your network if your facilities at the Qatar Airways departure hall in Doha can not even cope with todays number of passengers ?

Any traveller taking a morning flight can experience (after waiting 15-20 minutes at the passport control):

- A fully occupied noisy departure hall
- Transit passengers sleeping on the floor in the departure hall
- Very dirty toilets
- Limited facilities
- Expect a 15 minute bus ride to reach your plane

Yes, a new airport is being build but it will only open before 2013.

W 7 years ago

How about loosing bags and not receiving even an apology note,and this is for first class passenger

Ronald Ramos 7 years ago

We hope to see Toronto, Sydney and Taipei, Auckland, Christchurch, and even Los Angeles from Doha soon from a good airline like Qatar Airways. Keep up the good service and QR will make a nice airline someday.

Siddharth 7 years ago

Agree with you KL

It would be better if they improve their infrastructure first, rather than just add destinations and passengers...

Santiago 7 years ago

We are so happy to finally see Ex Yugoslavia on their network too. Great that Zagreb and Belgrade gets connected with Asia and especially Australia where many of their etnics live

Dobrodosli Qatar Airways in Zagreb and Belgrade !!

Belgrade rocks 7 years ago

Great news for all ex Yugoslavs living in the Middle East, and all those connecting from Australia to their homeland!

Marcus 7 years ago

This is my favourite airline. Many fellow Australian Serbs will now be able to fly direct from Perth, Melbourne and Sidney to Belgrade-Serbia, the land of our ancestors. Thank you QR!

Zed 7 years ago

I think they should look at Scotland as well. Emirates presently has monopoly on Scotland. If you ever get a chance to travel on an Emirates flight to or from Glasgow you’ll discover that more than half the passengers are flying onwards or were in transit in Dubai. Hence the reason Glasgow flights are the most expensive in all of the UK routes.

Nzree 7 years ago

The best thing about Doha airport is a place for children to play - whereas Dubai has at least 12!!!! smoking areas and not one child area.
But yes I agree the toilets are not good enough! And the food area needs a decent fast food outlet that doesnt have the extravagant prices and spicy foods of the current outlets (not good for travellers - spicy food before a flight.)

Nzree 7 years ago

Qatar Airways dont forget New Zealand - Auckland.