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New locations in nation’s capital Washington, Houston and New York

Qatar Airways moves to strengthen presence and commitment in US markets

Qatar Airways, in a move that will fortify its commitment and presence in the U.S. market, officially opened a new office in the capital city of Washington, DC, with a festive ceremony attended by locals VIPs and business leaders, including Qatar’s Ambassador to the United States His Excellency Ali Bin Fahad Al-Hajri.

The occasion also marked the second anniversary of Qatar Airways entering the US market with flights to New York and Washington, DC direct from the airline’s hub in Doha, capital of the State of Qatar. The airline recently added Houston as its third US gateway city.

For Al Baker, the Washington visit is the beginning of a three-city tour of US hub cities, which will include the official opening of new offices in Houston and New York City. He is joined by high-level members of Qatar Airways’ management team.

Qatar Airways currently operates non-stop daily flights from Dulles International Airport in Washington, New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport to Doha with convenient onward connections to many diverse business and leisure cities across the Middle East, South Asia, Africa and the Far East.

The Washington, DC office, at 1430 K Street NW, is conveniently located near McPherson Square Metro Station. Al Baker said that the new office demonstrated Qatar Airways’ commitment to excellent customer service both on the ground and in the air, pointing out that the K Street office will serve as an important access point for customers eager to make travel plans to Doha, the rest of the Middle East and to Africa and Asia.

“This month two years ago, Washington became our second US city when we began daily flights from Doha and the route has grown from strength to strength,” said Al Baker.

“We made the decision to strategically locate our new office in the central district of Washington to make it easier for business and leisure passengers to make their travel arrangements.

“Our offices are staffed by trained, dedicated and courteous professionals who are prepared to help with any travel request. Our on-the-ground customer service experience is as remarkable as our award-winning inflight Five Star experience which means excellence in all that we do with exceptional attention to detail.”

Qatar Airways is one of an elite group of international airlines ranked Five Star for excellence and service by Skytrax, the independent aviation industry audit based on an annual survey of more than 16 million passengers. Skytrax also recently voted Qatar Airways’ cabin crew Best in the Middle East for the seventh year running and Best Airline in the Middle East for the fourth consecutive year.

Added Al Baker: “While other airlines across the United States and around the world are scaling back on their staffing, flights and offices, Qatar Airways is completely committed to growing our presence and raising the service bar not only in America, but throughout our global network.

“At Qatar Airways, we strongly believe in offering our customers greater choice, great value for money and exceptional levels of service. The American travelling public is very demanding and very deserving and, rest assured, we deliver what we promise, focused on delivering the best levels of service.

”We look forward to the next few months with further expansion that will see new aircraft joining the fleet at an average of one a month and new routes added to our growing network.”

In March, Qatar Airways launched scheduled flights to Houston, initiating an extensive 2009 expansion programme. A further six new routes will be launched over the next few months, including the Indian cities of Amritsar (October 11) and Goa (October 25); Melbourne (December 6) and Sydney (date to be confirmed) in Australia subject to government approval; and a further two, as yet, unannounced routes in Europe.

The addition of Amritsar and Goa will raise Qatar Airways’ capacity in India to 64 flights a week spread across 10 cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Hyderabad, Trivandrum, Cochin and Kozikhode.

“Here, in the capital city of Washington DC and surrounding areas, there is a huge number of travellers to the Gulf and beyond, particularly to South Asia and with our new flights to Amritsar and Goa, we believe our services will appeal to the traveller looking to visit friends and family, as well as head on holiday there,” said Al Baker.

With a growing fleet – more than 220 aircraft on order worth over US$40 billion – and a rapidly developing route network that will top 120 destinations in five years’ time, together with the construction of a brand new international airport in Doha, Al Baker stressed that Qatar Airways was operating in the Middle East as the only region in the world which had enjoyed double digit growth in recent months.

He added: “We are in the enviable position where we don’t rely on any single market, simply because of our central geographical location.

“What is happening now in the world around us is a short-term situation. What our industry peers are doing is reacting quickly to economic conditions that are either in, or out of, their control. At Qatar Airways, we are not a short-term operator that makes radical changes to business practices because of market conditions.

“Qatar Airways is in it for the long term, continuing to grow with a realistic, aggressive expansion plan.”

Qatar Airways is recognised globally for its acclaimed Five Star service, superior cuisine and excellent onboard entertainment options. The Washington Dulles route is served by a state-of-the-art Boeing 777-300 Extended Range aircraft, featuring 335 seats in a two-class configuration of 42 seats in Business and 293 in Economy.

With a 2–2–2 configuration in Business Class and each seat converting to 180-degree flat beds offering a generous pitch of 78 inches, together with individual TV screens measuring 15.4 inches, it is one of the most spacious premium cabins in the skies today.

The Economy Class cabin, in a 3–3–3 configuration, has a seat pitch of up to 34-inches and 10.6-inch TV screens, designed to offer optimum viewing. Both Business and Economy class cabins offer in-seat PC power supply and touch-screen in-flight entertainment (IFE). The aircraft features a revamped IFE system, Oryx Entertainment, offering each passenger more than 900 interactive audio and visual options.

Qatar Airways currently operates a modern fleet of 69 aircraft to 82 destinations worldwide.