Under the leadership of Chief Executive Officer, Akbar Al Baker who was appointed in 1997, Qatar Airways grown from only four aircraft to boast a fleet size of 40 aircraft. The flagship carrier has a shared government and private ownership, and operates a fleet of all-Airbus aircraft averaging less than three years old.
The airline’s commitment to offering high service and quality from its workforce earned it a string of accolades during 2004. Three awards alone were given by Skytrax, an independent aviation quality monitoring agency. Qatar Airways achieved a five-star ranking – Skytrax’s highest accolade for airline service – joining an elite club alongside Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific as the only carriers in the world to have earned such recognition.
Qatar Airways’ cabin crew was recognised as the best in the Middle East for the second year running in 2004 and fifth best in the world following an annual survey of more than two million passengers comprising 93 different nationalities. Skytrax also placed Qatar Airways in the world’s top 10 for in-flight entertainment.
The airline was the first Middle East carrier to feature First Class seats that convert into 180-degree fully flat beds and Business Class flat beds. It also has Audio Video On Demand on its A330 long-haul fleet where passengers in First, Business and Economy Class can play, forward, rewind and stop programmes at a time of their choice, giving them more control of their personal entertainment.
Qatar Airways also plans to create a fleet of freighter aircraft to operate a global cargo network over the next few years. Qatar Airways operates one dedicated freighter, an Airbus A300-600 with a payload of 42 tonnes operating from Doha to New Delhi, Amsterdam and Chennai.
In 2003, Qatar Airways placed a $5.1 billion order with Airbus to purchase 34 new aircraft from the European manufacturer. The huge deal was signed at the Paris Air Show for aircraft with deliveries scheduled for completion by 2008. In 2004 alone, Qatar Airways took delivery of 13 Airbus aircraft, which was part of this multi-billion dollar order.
Qatar Airways is also one of the launch customers of the twin-deck A380-800 ‘super jumbo’ – the world’s biggest aircraft capable of carrying 555 passengers in a luxurious configuration. Qatar Airways has ordered four A380s with a delivery schedule beginning in 2009. The airline was among the A380 launch customers for the global unveiling of the aircraft in front of the world’s media in Toulouse in January 2005.
The delivery date of Qatar Airways’ first A380 will coincide with the opening of the new Doha International Airport. Qatar Airways plans to initially operate the A380 on its Doha and London Heathrow route followed by other prime, high-density routes.
The $2.5 billion new Doha International Airport is scheduled to open in 2009 and will initially be capable of handling 12 million passengers a year. Qatar Airways will manage the new airport, designed to help shape Doha as a key regional and global aviation hub.
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