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Qatar Airways to set up new corporate jet subsidiary

Qatar Airways announced the setting up of a corporate jet subsidiary – Qatar Executive – as part of the airline’s ongoing robust global growth strategy and continued commitment to the Middle East business travel community.

Two new Bombardier Challenger 605 aircraft, due to be delivered later this month, will be able to fly non-stop up to 4,000 nautical miles reaching destinations throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. Based at Qatar Airways’ hub at Doha International Airport, they will join a recently-delivered Bombardier Challenger 300 aircraft.

The latest moves also demonstrate Qatar Airways’ robust growth – continued investment in aircraft and infrastructure with more than US$40 billion worth of planes currently on order and over US$15 billion being injected in building a new international airport in Doha and upgrading the existing airport.

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said the creation of Qatar Executive demonstrated the airline’s commitment to meet the needs of a premium market segment looking for more flexibility as well as value for money. “Despite the current global economic climate, there remains a strong need for the corporate to conduct face to face business meetings in the shortest possible time so travel is still important as is time management,” he said, speaking on the second day of the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget.

“Whether flying from Doha to Bahrain for a breakfast meeting and back, or continuing onwards to Dubai for lunch and further to Abu Dhabi for an early evening meeting before returning to Doha in time for dinner, the corporate jet makes all this possible with a hassle-free experience.”

Added Al Baker: “With an initial fleet of three corporate jets, Qatar Executive will enable the corporate traveller to book an aircraft in little as four hours before departure and check-in 10 minutes prior to take-off. The personal onboard attention, comfort, fine dining and speed at which the aircraft flies ensure the experience is both rewarding and memorable. The aircraft have a capability of flying up to nine hours to different continents as far as Europe, Africa and Asia. We intend to build the fleet over time to provide even more choice to corporates.”

Statistics from the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) show that the corporate market in the Middle East has grown at an average of 13 per cent a year since 2000. Nine years ago, there were 200 corporate jets based in the Middle East, more than doubling in size to 450 in 2008 with estimates of further growth over the next few years. According to CAPA, the corporate jet market in the Middle East is estimated to be worth between US$500 million and US$700 million a year.

Individual wealth within the Gulf region is expected to grow by over 50 per cent during the 2008 – 2012 period, up from US$2.1 trillion to around US$3.8 trillion, according to statistics provided by international management consultancy Oliver Wyman.

“Forecast growth in the Middle East corporate market is expected to be between 15 and 20 per cent until 2012, so there is a clear opportunity for Qatar Airways to capitalise on this trend, hence the creation of our new business unit, Qatar Executive,” said Al Baker.

The Bombardier Challenger 300 and 605 aircraft feature eight and 11 leather seats respectively, which recline into fully berthable sleeping compartments. The interiors have premium fittings with plenty of space for meetings. Qatar Executive customers will use the VIP Terminal for departures and arrivals at Doha International Airport.

Qatar Executive is headed up by Ted Button, a veteran of the aviation industry with more than 25 years experience in jet aircraft management in the United States and over 30 years as a pilot.

“We know that the Middle East is underserved in the corporate aircraft segment, but by utilising the Five Star service of Qatar Airways as a model to build a new corporate jet venture is, we believe, the right way forward to capitalise on this key market,” said Button, Qatar Executive’s Senior Vice-President. Qatar Executive has also launched a website where prospective customers can make enquiries.
News of the corporate jet subsidiary followed yesterday’s opening day Paris Air Show announcement by Qatar Airways that it had placed orders for twenty Airbus A320s, as well as the firming up of four A321 aircraft.

Added Al Baker: “Our latest aircraft orders demonstrate Qatar Airways’ strong commitment towards a continuing, aggressive expansion strategy. Despite the current shifting economic climate hanging over many economies around the world, Qatar Airways has foresight with long-term objectives and planning which means continuing our growth strategy with vigour.”

Qatar Airways currently operates a modern fleet of 68 Airbus and Boeing aircraft to 82 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, South Asia, Far East and North America. Over the next nine months, Qatar Airways will add six new routes to its burgeoning network – Amritsar (October 11) and Goa (October 25) in India; Sydney and Melbourne in Australia marking its first foray Down Under; and two further cities in Europe.

The airline’s fleet will increase to more than 110 planes by 2013 and destinations served are set to rise from 82 to over 120 in the next five years. Long-term, the airline has placed orders for more than 200 aircraft worth over US$40 billion.

A new transit facility at Doha International Airport is due to open shortly at the eastern apron for passengers with less than 60-minute flight connections. At present, all passengers use the main terminal for arrivals, transfers and departures, which limits the time available for travellers who have tight connections. The number of parking bays at the eastern apron has increased to 16, while the main apron has seen the number of parking bays rise from 16 to 23. In addition, Qatar Airways’ Premium Terminal, for exclusive use by its First and Business Class passengers, has more than 80 per cent extra seating space following the opening of an extension to the dedicated Business Class section.

Expansion of the first floor Business Class lounge sees the current capacity of 320 seats increase by 250 – or 80 per cent – together with more shower rooms, buffet and dining areas. Duty free space has been almost doubled to cater for a wider range of high-end premium products ranging from fragrances and cosmetics to electronics and clothing.

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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.