From Gulf Times of Qatar 19 June 09
Qatar Airways’ long-awaited entry into Australia will be realised with the launch of Melbourne flights on December 6.
“We will begin operating to Australia before Christmas and in time for the holiday rush”, airline Chief Executive Officer Akbar al-Baker said on the sidelines of Paris Air Show yesterday.
Qatar Airways will begin operating three weekly services using a brand new Boeing B777-200 Long Range aircraft to be delivered to the airline later this year.
The operations will quickly become daily early in 2010, following the delivery of a second long range Boeing – the airline’s fourth – from the aircraft manufacturer’s plant in Seattle, Washington.Al-Baker said he has been waiting patiently for Boeing to deliver aircraft that Qatar Airways has on order to begin operating the first of its two planned routes into Australia.
“I know the travelling public is eager for us to begin serving Australia and I have had many people ask me about our direct routes to Melbourne and Sydney. We are finalising some details with regulatory authorities in Australia, and once we have received the necessary aircraft from Boeing, we will be ready to operate.
Qatar Airways already has 4,000 frequent fliers in Australia who are part of its loyalty programme, though the local market remains largely untapped.
“The Australian economy is one of the few in the world that grew in the first quarter of 2009, so this shows that the market there is still very strong, and we believe there is demand,” al-Baker said.
The new operation will connect travellers from Australia to the United Kingdom and Europe with a one-stop service and a planned one hour connection time in Doha. From Doha, passengers can also link to numerous destinations across South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.
Qatar Airways country manager (Australia) Brett Mcdougall said the Australian market is active and the travelling public represents a huge cosmopolitan blend with ties to countries around the world.
“The public is ready for a five-star airline of Qatar Airways’ stature to enter the Australian market. Up until now our customers have had to travel to Asia to join our services,” Mcdougall said.
The Boeing 777-200 Long Range aircraft operating on the route will offer a two-class configuration of 259 seats. In business class, there are 42 seats with passengers able to enjoy comfort and space offering a pitch of up to 78 inches with each seat converting into 180-degree fully flat beds. With a 2–2–2 seat configuration, business class passengers are assured of either a window or aisle seat and plenty of space.
In economy, seat space is above the industry average with a pitch of up to 34 inches offering significant leg room, while the 217 seats are in a 3-3-3 configuration.