Qatar Airways’ 2012 expansion programme is underway after the carrier launched scheduled daily flights to Tbilisi, Georgia via Baku, Azerbaijan on February 1.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker led a high-profile delegation on the Baku and Tbilisi inaugural flight QR976, including His Excellency Eldar Salimov, Ambassador of Azerbaijan to the State of Qatar; Her Excellency Ekaterine Meiering-Mikadze, Ambassador of Georgia to the State of Qatar; His Excellency Abdul Razzaq Al Abdul Ghani, Ambassador of the State of Qatar to Turkey and Georgia; international media and airline executives.
The delegation was welcomed to Baku by H.E. Sheikh Mubarak Fahad Al Thani, Ambassador of the State of Qatar to the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Guests attended an arrival ceremony at Baku’s Heydar Aliyev International Airport which was attended by dignitaries including Vice President and Executive Director, Azerbaijan Airlines, Eldar Hajiyev, local media, business leaders and airport officials.
Addressing guests at the ceremony, Al Baker said Azerbaijan’s developing tourism industry and energy resources were key factors in Qatar Airways’ decision to start operations there.
“We assessed Azerbaijan as a destination with great potential that would create a new air corridor providing wider choices for both leisure and business travellers,” he said.
“Azerbaijan’s rich energy resources offer great business opportunities, and a landscape that provides a good base for family and independent tourism.
“As well as enabling visitors from around the world to visit Baku, we also look forward to providing Azerbaijanis with the opportunity to fly to global destinations on Qatar Airways via our Doha hub.
“As the only Five Star airline flying to Baku, Qatar Airways is proud to bring its award-winning service to the people of Azerbaijan.”
Flight QR976 continued to its final destination, Georgia’s capital city of Tbilisi, where it was welcomed by an arrival ceremony at Tbilisi International Airport.
Guests included Tbilisi City Mayor, Mr. Gigi Ugulava and First Deputy Minister of Economy Mr. Irakli Matkava.
Addressing guests on arrival in Tbilisi, Al Baker said Georgia was a highly underserved part of Europe, which prompted the airline to consider opening up the route.
“Tbilisi becomes Qatar Airways’ 112th destination worldwide and it gives me great pleasure to celebrate our arrival here.
“We sincerely look forward to growing this route with additional capacity in the future and we look forward to welcoming more destinations into our ever increasing European network,” said Al Baker.
After inaugurating seven new routes across Europe last year, the addition of two cities in South Eastern Europe further diversifies Qatar Airways’ portfolio on the Continent. Destinations currently served across Europe include Ankara, Athens, Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Bucharest, Budapest, Venice, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, London Heathrow and Madrid.
From Doha, the airline offers excellent onward connections to cities across the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific, including Dubai, Muscat, Kuwait, Entebbe, Shanghai, Singapore, Bangkok, Delhi, Goa and Melbourne.
Qatar Airways is operating an Airbus A320 in a two-class configuration on the Baku and Tbilisi routes, which features 12 seats in Business Class and up to 132 seats in Economy.
Regardless of class of travel, the aircraft offers all passengers seatback TVs to enjoy the next generation interactive onboard entertainment system with a choice of more than 900 audio and video on demand options.
Qatar Airways currently operates a modern fleet of 104 aircraft to 112 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America. Last year was a landmark 12 months for Qatar Airways, which inducted 15 new destinations to its network, and won the coveted Skytrax Airline of the Year Award.
As part of its 2012 expansion programme, Qatar Airways will launch flights to seven further destinations – Kigali (Rwanda) from March 21; Zagreb (Croatia) from May 9; Perth (Australia) from July 3; with dates yet to be announced for other new routes – Mombasa (Kenya), Zanzibar (Tanzania), Helsinki (Finland), and Gassim (Saudi Arabia).