Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker has spelled out the strategic importance of the airline’s ongoing expansion in Europe following its latest route launch to Brussels.

The successful launch of scheduled flights to Europe’s capital city yesterday established Qatar Airways’ 98th international destination and marked the Gulf carrier’s third new European route to open in as many weeks. Qatar Airways began operating flights to both Bucharest and Budapest from its Doha hub in January.

Speaking at a press conference in the Belgian capital today, Al Baker said that the airline’s global expansion drive since March last year had seen a total of six new routes opened in Europe alone. In addition to the three latest routes, Qatar Airways has introduced flights to Copenhagen, Barcelona and Nice in Europe, and plans to add Stuttgart next month.

The airline has also implemented frequency and capacity upgrades on select existing European routes to enhance its network on the Continent.

“Qatar Airways has in recent months concentrated on growing its European network by boosting capacity and frequency, as well as establishing new routes to underserved cities. The importance of flying to cities across Europe cannot be understated. It remains a highly important part of the world where we have seen other airlines withdraw capacity,” said Al Baker.

“By adding Brussels to our network, we’ve opened up a myriad of connections through our hub in Doha to the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific regions. We will look to enhance our presence in Brussels further as demand for our service grows and there are strong indicators that the route could witness increased capacity by the end of the year.”

The Doha – Brussels route has been launched with five-flights-a-week operated by a wide body Airbus A330, featuring up to 30 seats in Business Class and up to 275 seats in Economy.