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Qatar Airways spreading its wings


Despite the Doha-based airline facing airport and aircraft related delays, their expansion strategy is as bold as ever.

May 7, 2013 3:41 by

Qatar Airways, one of the Middle East’s fastest growing airlines, has been faced with several challenges and blessings this year. To begin with, their plans to add 15 new routes were dampened with the grounding of Boeing’s 787 aircrafts (battery failure) for approximately three months – which the Doha-based airline’s outspoken CEO, Akbar Al Baker, describes as an ‘overreaction’ by authorities.

According to Reuters, the grounding cost the airline a total of $200 million and Al Baker expects to be compensated for the losses.

The progress of Hamad International Airport – which the airline intends to manage and operate – has also hit delays but is expected to be completed in phases. And yet, despite these setbacks, the airline hasn’t faltered in terms of its aggressive growth strategy – unless you count the cutbacks in routes of course.

During a press conference on the opening day of Arabian Travel Market – Al Baker announced yet another major expansion on three continents with an enormous increase in capacity in Pakistan.

The Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, will become the carrier’s 20th destination on the African continent, launching on September 18, followed a month later by Clark International Airport in the Philippines from October 28. Effective March 1 next year, Philadelphia will become the airline’s fifth US gateway.

“Yet again Qatar Airways is bucking the trend across the industry demonstrating that we are resilient in times of global economic austerity because while others are cutting back, we see the opportunities to expand our global footprint,” Al Baker said.

“Our three new routes we are announcing today show we have faith in expanding our operations across different continents. This year, for example, has certainly been the year of growth in the Middle East with five of our eight scheduled route launches in the region alone.”

Qatar Airways is currently in talks with Airbus to buy up to 15 of the European aircraft maker’s A330 passenger jets, a deal worth potentially $3.6 billion at list prices, citing production delays to Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.

“We are talking to Airbus about A330s to fill in the gap that the Dreamliner delays have caused Qatar Airways. Anywhere between 10 and 15 (aircraft),” Chief executive, Akbar al Baker, told Reuters on Monday.

Additional reporting from Reuters

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