Qatar Airways has fulfilled its long-standing ambitions to fly to Japan’s capital city when flight QR802 touched down at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport last night.
The addition of Tokyo, following the 13½ hour journey from Doha, marks the airline’s 89th international destination and second in Japan with the carrier already serving Osaka.
Tokyo also becomes the airline’s fourth new route launched so far during 2010 in a year of continued aggressive expansion.
Over the past two months, Qatar Airways has begun services to Bengaluru (Bangalore), Copenhagen and Ankara, with flights set to start to Barcelona and the South American cities of Sao Paulo in Brazil and the Argentine capital Buenos Aires during June.
The launch of the new Tokyo flights comes ahead of Japan’s Golden Week holiday season, and sees Qatar Airways become the only carrier from the Gulf operating daily flights to the Japanese capital, providing convenient connections for passengers travelling on the airline’s global network via its Doha hub.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker expressed delight that the airline was at long last able to fly to Tokyo after years of campaigning.
“Tokyo has been a destination of choice for Qatar Airways for a very long time, and as the largest metropolitan area in the world, it represents an important feeder market into our growing international network,” he said.
“This is a momentous occasion for Qatar Airways. I would like to offer my thanks to the Japanese government and officials at Narita International Airport for their support and assistance in facilitating the development of our newest route. Tokyo is certain to become a popular route on our ever growing network.”
“The Japanese are among the world’s most travelled people and we are pleased that Qatar Airways can now extend its award-winning hospitality to the people of Tokyo and the surrounding area to our Doha hub and beyond.”
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at Narita International Airport to celebrate the first flight linking the two capital cities of Tokyo and Doha.
Qatar Airways Senior Vice President East Asia and South West Pacific, Marwan Koleilat, who presided over the launch event at Narita, said:
“It is no coincidence that this route is launched at such an auspicious time as Golden Week. Qatar Airways appreciates Japan’s culture and traditions and we are delighted to honour this most special occasion in the Japanese calendar with our very first flight from Tokyo.”
The new flights strengthen the relationship between the State of Qatar and Japan, with both countries having close bilateral ties and enjoying growing trade.
Qatar traded US$26.23 billion worth of oil, gas and other exports with Japan in 2008, contributing 11 per cent of Japan’s total crude oil imports and almost 12 per cent of Japan’s liquefied natural gas imports.
There are currently over 30 Japanese companies operating in Qatar, with the Japanese community in Doha growing substantially from less than 200 members six years ago to over 1,100 in 2009.
Qatar’s imports from Japan, including motor vehicles, totalled over US$2 billion in 2008 and have grown significantly over the past six years.
Qatar Airways serves Tokyo with an Airbus A330 in a three-class configuration. With 12 First, 18 Business and 208 Economy Class seats, passengers are assured of Five Star comfort and service no matter which class of travel.
Qatar Airways’ passengers transiting onwards in First or Business Class through Doha onto connecting cities can use the airline’s exclusive Premium Terminal, where they can unwind and relax, enjoying facilities including fine dining, spa treatments and duty free shopping.
In March, Qatar Airways announced a summer expansion programme that included massive capacity and frequency upgrades as well as several new route launches.
From June 24, Qatar Airways will serve Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires with daily scheduled flights direct from Doha. Both cities will be key markets for Japanese business and leisure travellers.
The addition of South America will see Qatar Airways operating to six continents – a remarkable feat in just 13 years since its launch.