By James Wilkinson
The latest Middle Eastern airline to add Australian flights will touch down for the first time on December 6, 2009, when Qatar Airways launches Melbourne-Doha services.
Qatar Airways will start MEL flights on Dec 6
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker made the announcement of the thrice-weekly flights at the Paris Air Show and confirmed the airline would operate the route using brand new long-range Boeing B777-200LR aircraft.
He said the arrival of additional aircraft later in the year would see the service be flown daily from early 2010, prior to the launch of Sydney services, which SpiceNews understands will be in April.
“I know the travelling public is eager for us to begin serving Australia and I’ve had many people ask me about our direct routes to Melbourne and Sydney,” Al Baker said.
“We’re finalising some details with regulatory authorities in Australia, and once we’ve received the necessary aircraft from Boeing, we will be ready to operate,” he said.
The launch of the new flights is good from both an inbound and outbound perspective for the MICE market, with Qatar Airways operating to a number of key European cities from its Doha hub.
“Qatar Airways is a well-established brand in the UK and key points in Europe, so we already have a built-in market in this region that will feed into Australia which is an important destination for a lot of Europeans,” said Qatar Airways’ senior manager Europe, Paul Johannes.
The Boeing 777-200LR aircraft operating on the route will offer a two-class configuration of 259 seats, including 42 in business class, which have a pitch of up to 78 inches and convert to 180-degree fully flat beds.
Qatar Airways country manager – Australia, Brett McDougall, said the service and product on board the new flights would be nothing short of five-star.
“The public is ready for a five-star airline of Qatar Airways’ stature to enter the Australian market,” he said.
“There is certainly a level anticipation from travellers who know the premium quality and service of the airline, and I’m confident that Qatar Airways will continue to match and exceed their expectations,” McDougall said.