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CEO Akbar Al Baker thanks Houstonians for route launch success

Qatar Airways opens the airline’s brand new office in Houston Pavilons

Qatar Airways has offered thanks to the people of Houston for helping make the airline’s first route launch of 2009 a huge success. A Qatar Airways delegation has been in the heart of America’s energy capital city celebrating the official opening of the airline’s brand new office in Houston Pavilons, a newly-constructed multi-million dollar retail, dining and business centre.

Attended by airline officials and a host of local VIPs, including Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and Qatar Counsel General His Excellency Yousef Al-Khater, the opening comes just four months after Qatar Airways extended its global reach and award-winning Five Star hospitality to Houston with the launch of direct daily services to Doha, its operational hub.

At just under 17 hours, the non-stop flight is the longest in Qatar Airways’ international network and has been seen as a big boost for energy-related companies with business interests at both ends of the route.

The Houston launch into George Bush Intercontinental Airport marked Qatar Airways’ entry into the southern United States, connecting two major global energy capitals. Qatar Airways also flies daily to both Washington Dulles International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport IN New York using its state-of-the art Boeing 777 aircraft.

On the second leg of a USA tour for new office openings in all three cities, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said that the Houston route had grown from strength to strength since its launch.

“In March, I was privileged to be here in Houston for our inaugural route launch celebrations and was touched by the warmth and hospitality of Houstonians,” he said. “I am delighted to say that we have enjoyed a good rapport with the people of Houston, the business and leisure community and the airport authority for fully welcoming and supporting Qatar Airways.

“Since then, Qatar Airways has been honoured with a visit to Doha by a high-level business delegation from Houston led by Deputy Mayor Anthony Hall. Business links between our two cities have grown and we look forward to building on what is already an extremely fruitful relationship with Houston.”

Al Baker added that the new Houston office demonstrated Qatar Airways’ commitment to excellent customer service both on the ground and in the air. The office location will make it easier for business and leisure travellers to book their flights to South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Far East. “We made the decision to strategically locate our office in the central business district of Houston to make it easily accessible for business and leisure passengers to make their travel arrangements,” he said.

“All 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.”

Following a brief visit to Dallas to meet officials from Sabre, the global distribution system, he concludes his trip in New York City to open the carrier’s new Manhattan office in the luxurious Trump Tower.

The office openings come against a backdrop of cost-cutting by many airlines across the United States and around the world.

“We are completely committed to growing our presence and raising the service bar, not only in the United States, but throughout our global network. This means continued investment in people and in infrastructure as we are seeing in our new offices across the US,” said Al Baker.

“The American travelling public is demanding and deserving and, rest assured, we deliver what we promise, being focused on delivering best levels of service.”

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 the Middle East region had been enjoying double digit growth in recent months.

“While many of our industry peers are scaling back in every area of their operation, Qatar Airways is doing the exact opposite. We remain cost conscious, but in no way will we compromise on service and excellence that we have been focused on over the past 12 years since our launch.

“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.

”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,” he added.

The Houston launch was the first of a huge expansion programme in 2009. 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 Houston and surrounding areas, there is a wealth of travellers to the Gulf and beyond, particularly to South Asia and with our flights across India, including 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.

Washington-based Vice-President Americas Tony Hughes said: “Since our introduction to the American market, we have made good progress in establishing Qatar Airways as the carrier of choice for the corporate and leisure segments.”

Qatar Airways is recognised globally for its acclaimed Five Star service, superior cuisine and excellent onboard entertainment options. Two state-of-the-art Boeing 777-200 Long Range aircraft operating on the Houston route offer a two-class configuration of 259 seats and is the most spacious aircraft of any airline flying between the Middle East and America.

In Business Class, there are 42 seats with passengers able to enjoy comfort and space offering a pitch of up to 78 inches and each seat converting into 180-degree fully flat beds.