India, Europe on Qatar Airways’ radar


Qatar Airways is continuing with its aggressive expansion strategy in 2011, with India, Norway and Bulgaria on its horizon.

The Doha-based airline’s CEO Akbar Al Baker unveiled the plans at the ongoing ITB Berlin trade show.

Daily flights to the eastern Indian city of Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, will be launched on July 27 taking the airline’s capacity in India to 95 services a week spread across 12 cities.

In Europe, where much of Qatar Airways’ recent expansion has been the focus, the airline is to launch four-flights-a-week to the Bulgarian capital Sofia from September 14.

In January, the carrier began services to the Romanian capital Bucharest, Hungarian capital Budapest and Belgium’s capital city of Brussels.

Beginning October 5, the airline aims to build on its operations in Scandinavia with the start of five-flights-a-week to Norway’s capital city of Oslo. The airline already operates scheduled services to the Swedish capital Stockholm and Denmark’s capital city of Copenhagen.

Together with a raft of capacity increases that see the Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Manchester and Dar Es Salaam routes go double daily, Geneva, Seychelles and Copenhagen will be upgraded to daily operations.

This week, the airline has also embarked on the latest phase of its 2011 expansion drive launching three-flights-a-week to Stuttgart, its fourth German gateway and 99th international destination.

With frequency on the Munich route increasing from daily to 11 flights a week, effective March 9, and the Frankfurt route upgraded from 10 to 13 flights each week, beginning March 27, Qatar Airways is targeting its biggest ever capacity rise in Germany in a short timeframe - from 24 to 34 flights a week.

Al Baker said the airline’s growth remained on target with relentless expansion. He added: "The announcement of new services to Kolkata, Oslo and Sofia reflects our commitment to connect diverse global cities via our Doha hub.

"As we take delivery of more aircraft, we will quickly induct them into service and constantly look at new opportunities to give the travelling public more travel options, more choice and more flexibility."

Since January 2010, Qatar Airways has taken delivery of 22 new planes – a mix of wide-body Boeing 777s, narrow-body Airbus A320 Family aircraft and Bombardier business jets, the latter for the airline’s corporate jet division, Qatar Executive.

By 2013, Qatar Airways plans to serve more than 120 key business and leisure destinations worldwide with a modern fleet of over 120 aircraft. Today, the airline’s fleet stands at 94 aircraft.

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