Qatar Airways has officially opened its new Premium Lounge for First and Business Class passengers at London’s Heathrow Airport in front of VIP guests drawn from the diplomatic world, travel industry, corporate business leaders and the British media.

Located airside at Terminal 4, the lounge is Qatar Airways’ first dedicated facility for premium passengers outside its Doha hub, where the carrier operates the award-winning Premium Terminal.

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker officially opened the lounge in front of over 50 invited guests before giving them a tour of the facility.

The event marked the start of another busy year for the carrier, with the launch of new routes, as well as additional capacity on the London Heathrow – Doha route, being stepped up from four to five flights a day, effective March 25.

The lounge reinforces the importance of the UK as one of the airline’s busiest routes.

Guests at the opening discovered a lounge designed to resemble a boutique hotel or private member’s club rather than a conventional airport facility for an airline. They experienced the ultimate in luxury and Five-Star service which reflects the airline’s drive to excel in all areas of operations.

Qatar Airways recruited lounge staff from Five Star hotels and restaurants to work in the theatre-style Global Brasserie kitchen, innovative Delicatessen, and elegant Signature Martini bar that are key features of the new Heathrow lounge which can accommodate over 90 passengers.

The lounge also includes private shower facilities, with heated floors and mirrors, hotel-style towels and luxury branded toiletries and amenities.

Business and leisure travellers can stay connected with free Wi-Fi throughout the lounge, discreet power sockets at every seat and a business centre that includes PCs and printers.

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said that the new lounge reflected the importance of extending the airline’s award-winning service beyond the signature Premium Terminal in Doha.

“London has long been one of our best-performing routes, so Heathrow was an obvious choice for our first Premium Lounge outside Doha,” he told guests.

“With frequency on our highly popular Heathrow route soon rising to five flights a day, it was vitally important that we provided a dedicated facility for our loyal customers travelling in our premium cabins and enjoy the comforts of an airport facility before departure.

“The international spotlight will firmly be on the British capital this summer with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games taking place, so we look forward to the increase in capacity and welcome more premium travellers on our high demand services to and from London.

“The lounge is the latest development in our rapidly expanding global route network and we are eyeing opportunities to open further airport lounges in destinations where we operate more than two frequencies a day.”

During 2012, Qatar Airways will launch flights to nine new destinations: Baku (Azerbaijan) on February 1; Tbilisi (Georgia) on February 1; Kigali (Rwanda) on March 21; Zagreb (Croatia) on May 9; Perth (Australia) on July 3; with dates yet to be announced to Gassim (Saudi Arabia), Helsinki (Finland), Mombasa (Kenya) and Zanzibar (Tanzania).