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Qatar Airways launches inaugural flight to Houston

Qatar Airways celebrated the launch of scheduled flights from Doha to Houston with its new daily non-stop service linking the world’s energy capitals and marking the carrier’s 84th destination. The new route gives Qatar Airways its third daily non-stop service to America, supplementing existing daily services to Washington D.C. and New York City. It is also the airline’s first foray into America’s southern states.

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker led a delegation of Qatar Airways executives, Qatari VIPs and media from across the GCC on flight QR077 as the inaugural flight from Doha made its near 17-hour non-stop journey to Houston.

They were greeted at George Bush Intercontinental Airport by a traditional fireman’s water cannon welcome salute, musical entertainment by a jazz trio, followed by official ceremonies, which included ribbon-cutting and speeches by business and government officials in front of local and international media.

Welcoming remarks were provided by Rob Wigington, Deputy Director of Marketing, Communications and Community Affairs with the Houston Airport System, and Houston City Controller, Annise Parker. Dignitaries included Qatar’s Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Ali bin Fahad Al-Hajri, as well as well as Texas government officials and Houston city leaders.

Addressing the gathering on arrival, Al Baker said: “On behalf of Qatar Airways, I am delighted to see our aircraft now offering daily non-stop services to Houston. After more than a year of planning, we are finally on Texan soil.

“Qatar Airways makes history by connecting the world’s energy capitals of Doha and Houston. It is with great pride that we are able to offer the business and leisure communities of these two great cities – and cities within the United States and across the Middle East and beyond – with a great new direct flight.

“With a flying time under 17 hours, this clearly is the longest flight in Qatar Airways’ route network and one of the longest non-stop services in the world using our two state-of-the-art Boeing 777-200 Long Range aircraft dedicated to this route.”

Added Al Baker: “I would like to thank officials at George Bush Intercontinental Airport for welcoming us with open arms. Passenger demand prompted this new route and I am absolutely thrilled we are able to bring our award-winning Five Star service to this wonderful gateway to America’s southern states and Latin America.

“Houston is the first new route launch for Qatar Airways in a robust year of growth which will see new destinations of Sydney and Melbourne in Australia; Goa and Amritsar in India; and two additional European points joining our growing international network.”

Al Baker explained that Qatar Airways was committed to developing its business and reaching out to the travelling public with flights and frequencies to give passengers greater choice.

The expansion, he stressed, was part of the airline’s ongoing growth strategy – a long-term commitment to develop its route infrastructure as new aircraft join the fleet at an average delivery rate of one a month. The award-winning Doha-based airline currently has on order more than 200 new Airbus and Boeing aircraft worth over US$40 billion.

In 2007, Qatar Airways placed orders for 14 Boeing 777-300ERs, six of the 777-200 Long Range variant and seven 777-200 freighters – all for scheduled delivery until mid-2010. There are options for a further five Boeing 777 aircraft. Qatar Airways has so far taken delivery of eight Boeing 777 aircraft, of which two are the Long Range variant operating on the Houston route.

The airline’s daily service to Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport offers flexibility and convenience to business and leisure travelers alike. The Boeing 777-200 Long Range aircraft operating on the route offers a two-class configuration of 259 seats and is arguably the most spacious aircraft of any airline flying from the Middle East to the United States.

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 Class, seat space is above the industry average with a pitch of up to 34 inches offering significant leg room, while the 217 seats in a 3-3-3 configuration are the most spacious of any airline flying to Houston.

Qatar Airways is renowned for its internationally-acclaimed Five Star service, superior cuisine and on-board entertainment options. Regardless of class of travel, passengers can enjoy the next generation interactive in-flight entertainment onboard with a choice of more than 700 audio and video on demand options. For music, documentaries, movies, sport, comedy, children’s programmes and interactive games, passengers are rest assured of a great choice of entertainment.

Qatar Airways currently operates a modern fleet of 68 Airbus and Boeing aircraft from its Doha hub to 84 key business and leisure cities across Europe, Middle East, Africa, South Asia, Far East and North America.

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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