Published on January 2nd, 2017 | by Jim Lee0
Qatar Airways experiences continued growth in 2016 as it launches new destinations including Dublin for 2017
Qatar Airways is justifiably celebrating a successful year of continued growth in 2016, through its strategic network, fleet and partnership expansions as it looks forward to adding Dublin to its route network in 2017. It is now one of the fastest growing airlines in aviation history, serving over 150 destinations.
At a time when a number of airlines are downsizing, Qatar Airways continued to see strong growth in 2016 and inaugurated 14 new destinations across its global network. These new destinations are Adelaide (Australia), Atlanta (USA), Birmingham (UK), Boston (USA), Helsinki (Finland), Los Angeles (USA), Marrakech (Morocco), Pisa (Italy), Ras Al Khaimah (UAE), Sydney (Australia), Windhoek (Namibia), Yerevan (Armenia), Krabi (Thailand) and Mahe (Seychelles), providing even more choice for travellers.
In addition, Qatar Airways welcomed 19 new aircraft to its fleet, taking its total to 192. It also placed a record aircraft order to power future growth. Qatar Airways also made a number of strategic investments in other airlines and airline groups, while investing heavily in the continued evolution of its own passenger experience. It also received a number of awards throughout the year, confirming it as one of the world’s leading carriers for business and leisure travel. You can see a video created by the airline, highlighting its most special moments here.
The airline also celebrated a strong financial performance, having finished the 2016 fiscal year with an operating profit of more than QAR 3 billion (around €783 million) – the best yet for the Qatar Airways Group. For further details see here.
Commenting on the airlines performance in 2016, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency, Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “I am extremely proud of the success that Qatar Airways has achieved together with our employees and partners in 2016. I’d like to extend my sincere gratitude to all staff for their discipline and tireless pursuit for excellence. I’d also like to extend my gratitude to our loyal passengers for their continued support. Our passengers will see a continuation of our commitment to providing the very best travel experiences in the year to come. This past year has truly been an exceptional year and, and as we turn to 2017 to celebrate Qatar Airways 20th Anniversary, I look forward to celebrating future successes with our employees, partners and passengers in the years to come as we go places together.”
As its Chief Executive has noted, Qatar Airways has its eyes firmly set on the future, with the airline already announcing 14 new destinations for 2017-18, including Dublin. The others announced on 28th November are, Canberra, the airline’s fifth destination in Australia; Las Vegas, the airline’s 11th destination in the United States; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Santiago, Chile; Medan, Kualanamu International Airport, the airline’s third destination in Indonesia; and Tabuk and Yanbu, the 9th and 10th destinations in Saudi Arabia. These destinations join previously announced services to Auckland, New Zealand, which will start on 5th February 2017, and will be the world’s longest commercial flight, as well as Sarajevo, Bosnia; Skopje, Macedonia; Libreville, Gabon; Nice, France; Chiang Mai, the airline’s fourth destination in Thailand; and Douala, Cameroon.
Commenting on the new Dublin to Doha service, His Excellency Mr Akbar Al Baker, said: “The launch of flights to Dublin, the capital of Ireland, is an exciting addition to our network and I am confident that business and leisure passengers will benefit from our Boeing 787 Dreamliner service and smooth onward connections through our home and hub, Hamad International Airport.”
Qatar’s new Dublin service will be operated by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft in a 254-seat configuration, with 22 seats in Business Class and 232 seats in Economy. The new daily service will operate from 12th June next, with the following schedule:
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday (from 12th June 2017)
Doha (DOH) to Dublin (DUB) QR19 – departs: 01:25 arrives: 07:25
Dublin (DUB) to Doha (DOH) QR20 – departs: 08:50 arrives: 18:05
Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday (from 13th June 2017)
Doha (DOH) to Dublin (DUB) QR17 – departs: 07:20 arrives: 13:20
Dublin (DUB) to Doha (DOH) QR18 – departs: 15:25 arrives: 00:40+1
Dublin Airport Managing Director, Vincent Harrison, added that he was delighted that Qatar Airways would launch its Dublin-Doha service next year. “We look forward to welcoming the new daily Doha service from June and to working closely with Qatar Airways to promote this new route. This service will bring extra choice and convenience for passengers and will also add Dublin and Ireland to Qatar’s growing global network” he added.
Earlier this year, Aer Lingus Chief Executive, Stephen Kavanagh, confirmed that Aer Lingus and Qatar Airways were in negotiations to start flights between Dublin and Doha, which would help Aer Lingus compete with Middle East carriers, Emirates and former shareholder, Etihad Airways, who both fly to Dublin from their Gulf hubs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, as well as Istanbul Turkish Airlines, currently celebrating ten years in Dublin. This probably will mean some form of code share or joint marketing on the route between the carriers.
Qatar’s fleet expansion
Qatar Airways took delivery of 19 new aircraft in 2016, creating a total fleet of 192 aircraft. It was the global launch customer of the A350, taking delivery of its first aircraft, A7-ALA (c/n 6), on 22nd December 2014. It now operates a fleet of 13 A350s, the most technologically advanced aircraft in the world, serving destinations as diverse as Boston, London and Adelaide.
Qatar Airways continued to deliver on its fleet expansion and renewal strategy in 2016, having placed a record $11.7 billion (around €11.12 billion) order for 30 B787-9 Dreamliners and 10 777-300ERs, as well as signing a Letter of Intent for up to 60 737 Max 8s valued at $6.9 billion (around €6.56 billion). This landmark order, combined with previous orders results in a total of 350 Airbus and Boeing aircraft to be delivered to the airline over the coming years valued at more than $90 billion (around €85.57 billion).
Presently Qatar Airways has one of the youngest fleets in the world, averaging just five years, and the combination of its short and long haul mixed fleet, provides the airline with the operational agility, to maximise efficiency and profit by putting the right aircraft on the right route.
Finally, Qatar Airways’ private jet arm, Qatar Executive, was the global launch customer for the Gulfstream G650ER, and placed an order for a further three G650ERs – the fastest and longest range private jet aircraft in the world – at the Farnborough Airshow in July. The latest order will make Qatar Executive the largest dedicated G650 operator globally.
Strategic partnerships form an important part of Qatar Airways’ success, as the airline invests in airlines that have clear marketplace advantages or opportunities. During 2016, Qatar Airways raised its stake in the International Airlines Group (IAG) to 20%, signed an agreement to acquire up to 10% of LATAM Airlines Group, South America’s largest consolidated carrier, and made significant progress towards the acquisition of a 49% stake in Italian airline, Meridiana, in early 2017. The airline also formed a new a Joint Business Agreement with British Airways and celebrated its one-year anniversary of its joint business agreement with Royal Air Maroc. New code-share relationships with oneworld members Finnair and Sri Lankan were signed, along with oneworld affiliate member Comair, and Vueling and Air Botswana.
Qatar Airways continued its commitment to build its home base, Doha, into a world-class destination for sport, entertainment and the arts, and is marketing Doha as an excellent stopover destination to its millions of passengers. The airline hosted the first ever Qatar Airways Cup, welcoming FC Barcelona and Saudi’s Al Ahli for a ground-breaking Match of Champions, while sponsoring other world-class events in tennis, squash and cycling. As title sponsor for the seventh year, the annual Qatar International Food Festival saw a record number of visitors and attendees to the world-stage event. Qatar Airways also lead the initiative to introduce a new transit visa scheme, opening up unprecedented access for travellers and new opportunity for the country’s booming tourism industry.
Working in support of the Community
Qatar Airways’ employees celebrated the launch of The Oryx International School; a primary educational institution dedicated to the children of the Qatar Airways Group’s staff, as part of its continued investment in being a leading global employer. Corporate Social Responsibly remained an important part of Qatar Airways’ values with its long standing partnership with Orbis, the Flying Eye Hospital, the Educate a Child programme and its partnership with the Sheikh Thani Bin Abdullah Foundation for Humanitarian Services (RAF) continuing through 2016. Underprivileged children in communities the airline serves were a focus for Qatar Airways, with Our Father’s Kitchen feeding more than 200 children each day in Addis Ababa, along with the Al-Amal School in Djibouti. The airline heavily supported the blood donation campaign in Doha, in support of Hamad Medical Corporation Blood Bank – providing a framework for its staff to give back to the community.
Qatar Airways remains a valued member of IATA’s Environment Committee, with its leadership in environmental responsibility and sustainability initiatives. This partnership saw the airline achieve the foundation level of IATA’s Environmental Assessment certification scheme, delivered through optimising flight and ground handling operations. Qatar Airways remains on track to achieving full industry certification by the end of 2017.
Qatar Airways enjoyed a particularly illustrious year of recognition, joining the elite list of the most recognised brands in the world. The airline’s passengers continually voted the airline’s Business Class as being the best in the world, with the premium cabin acknowledged as Skytrax’s World’s Best Business Class and Best Business Class from the Business Traveller Awards. Business Traveller USA and Travel Weekly announced Qatar Airways Airline with the Best Business Class Service in the World and Best Airline in the Middle East respectively. Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Lounge was named Skytrax’s Best Business Class Lounge while the airline’s exclusive Al Safwa First Lounge was awarded the Seven Star First Class Lounge Award by the Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle Awards – the first airline lounge in the world to ever receive the prestigious Seal of Excellence.
Looking to the future
In its pursuit for excellence, and to match other Gulf carriers recently introduced products, the airline is also preparing to launch a revolutionary Business Class seat in the first quarter of 2017 – building on what is already one of the most awarded premium cabins in the industry. As we welcome this carrier to Dublin, we wish that its prosperity, vision, resilience and operational excellence again prove a balanced, yet successful recipe that will carry it forward into 2017.