Qatar Airways has in the span of just two weeks expanded passenger services to Iraq with the launch of its second destination in the country – to the capital Baghdad.
The Doha-based airline is operating four-flights-a-week non-stop on the Baghdad route. Located on the banks of the Tigris River, Iraq’s capital is one of the Arab world’s largest cities.
The move comes just two weeks after Qatar Airways launched flights, also four-times-a-week, to the northern Iraqi city of Erbil.
Cargo traffic bound for Iraq will see a boost when Qatar Airways launches a dedicated weekly freighter service to Erbil, effective July 5.
Both the Erbil and Baghdad passenger services are being operated with an Airbus A320 in a two-class configuration of 12 seats in Business Class and 132 in Economy.
Qatar Airways Senior Vice-President GCC, Levant, Iran, Iraq and Indian Sub continent Fathi Al Shehab was onboard inaugural flight QR442 to Baghdad, which arrived at the city’s international airport to a traditional water salute welcome followed by an airport ceremony attended by local officials and media.
The addition of Baghdad takes Qatar Airways’ global network to 116 destinations worldwide. Qatar Airways’ passengers flying to Iraq from destinations across the Gulf, Europe, Indian subcontinent, Asia Pacific and The Americas can seamlessly connect via the airline’s Doha hub.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said: “Baghdad had long been on our list of destinations which we identified as being a key part of growing our Middle East network.
“During Iraq’s current period of reform and development, with industries resurging and many new companies expanding operations to Iraq, we felt this was the time to move into the country.
“With our new passenger flights to both Baghdad and Erbil, together with our new dedicated freighter service to Erbil starting next month, Qatar Airways is offering excellent capacity to and from the country.”
Added Al Baker: “With growing business ties between Iraq and the rest of the world, it is a natural next step for the airline to expand further within the region, providing opportunities for greater economic, cultural and educational exchanges through this greater air access.”
Addressing local airport officials and media upon arrival in Baghdad, Al Shehab said: “Baghdad is a route which will help facilitate easy movement for those travelling from around the world on business to the country, with excellent connectivity via Doha.
“In addition, we are offering Iraqis living abroad with a more convenient way to return to Baghdad and neighbouring towns and cities. We provide our passengers with an exceptional award-winning onboard product and great connections to reach their families and homes.
“We have been working closely with the travel trade and corporations in Iraq and indeed across our international network to promote our new Iraq services.
“Qatar Airways has enjoyed a busy year so far with Baghdad becoming the airline’s sixth new route start-up since January.”
Since the beginning of the year, Qatar Airways has launched flights to Baku (Azerbaijan); Tbilisi (Georgia); Kigali (Rwanda); Zagreb (Croatia), Erbil (Iraq), and now Baghdad, with many more planned during 2012.
Over the next few months, Qatar Airways launches services to a diverse portfolio of new routes, including Perth, Australia (July 3); Kilimanjaro, Tanzania (July 25); Mombasa, Kenya (August 15); Yangon, Myanmar (October 3) and a date yet-to-be-announced to the Serbian capital Belgrade
Qatar Airways has seen rapid growth in just 15 years of operation, currently operating a modern fleet of 109 aircraft to 116 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.