Qatar Airways expands while others cut back

While the world’s major airlines are cutting back capacity and parking their aircraft in the desert to cope with the impact of the global financial crisis, Qatar Airways is going against the tide by expanding its reach to SE Asia, US and Europe and sticking to a 200-aircraft expansion plan.

Qatar Airways, riding on the Qatar economy’s strength, which is forecast by Samba Financial Group to grow 10.3 per cent in 2009 despite the burgeoning global financial turmoil as the country expands exports of liquefied natural gas, is forging ahead with its expansion plans.

So, with the arrival of its fifth Boeing 777-300ER in December, Qatar’s national carrier has deployed the aircraft on flights between Doha and Manila from January 2009, increasing its capacity to Southeast Asia.

“The aircraft will enable Qatar Airways to build up an efficient cargo hub linking Europe and Asia, supplemented by its regional wide-body freighters,” executive vice president Ali M. Al Rais says.

Qatar Airways, which launched the Doha and Ho Chi Minh City route with four non-stop fl ights a week in March 2007, upgraded the service’s aircraft to an Airbus A330-300 in November last year due to good demand. It also plans to further develop the route, and hopes to develop daily flights between the two destinations one day.

Aside from Vietnam, Qatar Airways also opened a new representative office in July last year in the southwest Chinese city of Chengdu – the airline’s fourth office on mainland China. The airline also opened three other offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou in March, 2008. The airline operates more than 20 flights a week out of Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Guangzhou to Doha.