By Safura Rahimi
ATM Special: the airline is finally launching US services after a six month delay.
Qatar Airways is set to fly to Washington DC and New York, in a move that will expand its international network with first-time services to the US, it was announced on Wednesday.
The company will fly to the US capital starting July 19 and will add four-times-weekly flights to New York - via Geneva - beginning June 28, as part of the seven cities being added to the airline's summer expansion programme.
"Qatar Airways is preparing for its biggest route launches of the year with both New York and Washington DC coming online this summer," Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, said at the Arabian Travel Market event in Dubai.
"We are extremely excited to widen our reach to the United States and offer the travelling public a long-awaited service between the Middle East and US east coast," he added.
Commenting on the six month delay of the airline's US launches - the launch was first expected in January - Mr. Al Baker claimed that the airline was ready but that US regulations pushed back the launch date.
"I don't want to blame the US," he said. "They went into an experience [9/11] that I hope no one else in the world goes through, [and] they have to be more careful about all regulatory policies being completed."
"It's fair to say we would have liked the process to be more efficient," he added.
Qatar Airways joins UAE carriers Emirates and Etihad Airways in offering services from the Middle East to the US, a move that will offer connections to and from the GCC markets.
Mr. Al Baker also announced that the airline is stepping up its frequency on the Doha-Dubai route with an additional daily flight, saying, "[we] recognises the importance of key neighbouring markets like the UAE to feed traffic onto its network."
The move means a total of eight daily flights and 56 weekly flights between the two cities.
Qatar Airways currently flies to 75 worldwide destinations from its hub in Doha, including Dar es Salaam, Lagos, Chennai, Bali and Ho Chi Minh City.
The airline's fleet is set to more than double in size to 110 aircraft by 2015 as it plans to buy 80 Airbus A350s and 22 Boeing 777s, with deliveries beginning this November.