Gulf News: Qatar Airways “remains committed to expanding our global network and taking our passengers anywhere in the world they wish to go”, said Group Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker as the national carrier celebrates a successful year of tremendous growth, network expansion and record-breaking award wins.
Despite a challenging regional environment, the airline continued to deliver beyond expectations throughout 2017, accelerating new routes, doubling frequencies and capacity to numerous destinations and launching its award-winning new business class seat - Qsuite.
At a time when many airlines are scaling back, Qatar Airways continued to thrive, showcasing to the world its award-winning, best-in-class cabins, catering, in-flight entertainment, on-board magazine, lounges and more.
Al-Baker said, “This year, our 20th anniversary as an airline, is particularly special for us. As we reflect on our achievements, we reaffirm our commitment to providing excellence in the skies, ensuring that our passenger’s holiday or leisure trip starts the moment they step onto one of our aircraft. We remain committed to expanding our global network, and to taking our passengers anywhere in the world they wish to go.
“After 20 years of service, we vow to never rest on our achievements, but rather to focus on how we can continue to innovate, and to deliver an exceptional five-star experience to every one of our passengers, no matter what class they travel. Against the backdrop of the illegal blockade against the State of Qatar, we are more committed than ever to welcoming everyone onboard and taking them wherever they need to go.”
One of the world’s fastest-growing airlines, Qatar Airways launched some 11 exciting new destinations in 2017, including Auckland – the world’s longest commercial flight, Nice, Dublin, Skopje, Sohar, Kyiv, Prague, Sarajevo, Adana, Chiang Mai and St Petersburg.
In addition to launching flights to Chiang Mai, its fourth destination in Thailand, the airline also introduced a fifth daily non-stop service to Bangkok as well as a daily service to Krabi.
Qatar Airways looks ahead with excitement to 2018, when it will launch a “host of exciting” new destinations, including Penang, Canberra, Thessaloniki (Greece) and Cardiff, the airline’s fifth UK gateway, to name just a few.
The airline will also be the global launch customer and launch operator of the Airbus A350-1000 in 2018.
In January, it will commence service to Pattaya, the airline’s fifth Thai destination.
Qatar Airways will also add a new direct daily service to Hanoi, with Ho Chi Minh City’s daily service increasing by three flights a week to 10 starting January 1, 2018.
The airline introduced its superjumbo A380 aircraft to Melbourne and will soon introduce it on its Perth route, enhancing capacity to Australia ahead of the airline’s launch of service to Canberra next year.
Qatar Airways also doubled its frequencies to a number of destinations in Eastern Europe, the Nordics and Russia, following a significant increase in passenger demand to Warsaw, Helsinki, and Moscow, with increases to Prague and Kyiv.
Qatar Airways took delivery of 19 new aircraft in 2017, taking its total fleet to 212 aircraft. The airline also recently upsized an earlier order for 50 Airbus A320neo with a firm order instead for 50 of the larger A321neo ACF (Airbus Cabin Flex configuration), in an order signed earlier this month in the presence of His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Qatar Airways continued to forge strong partnerships around the world and proved its commitment to creating lasting relationships with global partners. In November, it announced an acquisition in fellow oneworld member Cathay Pacific, purchasing approximately 9.61 percent of Cathay Pacific’s total issued share capital.
The airline further strengthened its commitment to Italy with the acquisition of 49 percent of AQA Holding, the new parent company of Meridiana fly (Meridiana), while the previous sole shareholder Alisarda has kept 51 percent.
In June, Qatar Airways released its annual results for the 2017 fiscal year, revealing an impressive 21.7 percent year-on-year net profit increase. The results also showed an annual revenue increase of 10.4 percent.