Qatar Airways has celebrated yet another milestone in its short history with the launch of scheduled daily flights to Brazil and Argentina marking its foray into South America for the first time.
Brazil’s largest city Sao Paulo and the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires have joined the airline’s growing list of destinations, taking the Doha-based carrier’s global network up to 92 points served worldwide.
With the lands of samba and tango now in the airline’s network, it signals the latest step in Qatar Airways’ huge expansion drive with South America becoming the final piece in the airline’s global jigsaw that now covers six continents.
The two new routes complete a five-month expansion programme so far this year which has seen the airline introduce flights to Bengaluru (Bangalore), Copenhagen, Ankara, Tokyo and Barcelona.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker led a high profile delegation of dignitaries and international media from Asia and the Gulf region on the inaugural flight QR921 from Doha to Sao Paulo and onwards to Buenos Aires.
They included Brazil’s Ambassador to the State of Qatar, His Excellency Anuar Nahes and His Excellency Ruben Caro, Argentina’s Ambassador to Qatar.
Airport functions, featuring a cake-cutting ceremony and speeches, were held on arrival at both cities, attended by government, airport and business officials, together with local and international media.
Al Baker said it was an historic occasion for Qatar Airways that would further boost economic ties between Qatar and both Brazil and Argentina.
“Just 13 years ago, Qatar Airways embarked on an ambitious plan by launching an airline that would spread its wings far and wide and offer the highest levels of service and hospitality,” he said, speaking at arrival receptions at both airports.
“Today, I am proud to say that we have achieved a remarkable feat, stretching our award-winning Five Star service to South America by serving both Brazil and Argentina, which takes our international network up to 92 destinations across six continents. This is indeed a momentous occasion for Qatar Airways and all our staff.
“I would like to thank the airport authorities and government agencies in both countries for helping Qatar Airways make today’s launch a reality.
“Both Brazil and Argentina share close ties with Qatar and with our new routes, we will only reinforce and strengthen the relationship we already share, boosting trade, commerce and tourism.”
Added Al Baker: “The timing of our new routes could not have been better and we are confident that entering the relatively untapped South American market will be a great success.
“With a large Lebanese and Japanese community living in Brazil, Argentina and neighbouring South American countries, the route is a perfect match for our business model, which carries passengers from East to West and vice versa via our Doha hub.”
During his speech, Al Baker congratulated both the Brazilian and Argentinian soccer teams for their qualification into the next round of the World Cup currently taking place in South Africa.
Qatar Airways is the only Five Star ranked airline operating between the Middle East and South America, and was recently elevated to the top three airlines in the world in the prestigious Skytrax global rankings.
The new South American flights offer excellent connections to and from key cities worldwide, across the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific via the airline’s Doha hub. These include Tokyo, Shanghai, Singapore, Beijing, Melbourne, Nairobi, Beirut, Dubai and Muscat.
During a four-month period starting in October 2010, Qatar Airways will expand its international route network further with six new routes, operating scheduled flights from Doha to Phuket, Hanoi, Nice, Brussels, Bucharest And Budapest.
Qatar Airways operates the Boeing 777-200 Long Range aircraft in a two-class configuration of 259 seats – 42 in Economy and 216 in Business Class – to Brazil and Argentina, offering arguably the most spacious aircraft of any airline flying between the Middle East and South America.
In Business Class, passengers are able to enjoy unprecedented comfort and space with a seat pitch of up to 78 inches, and each seat converting into 180-degree fully flat beds. With a 2–2–2 seat configuration, Business Class passengers are assured of either a window or aisle seat.
In Economy Class, seat space is above the industry average with a pitch of up to 34 inches offering significant leg room. The 3–3–3 seat configuration is the most spacious of any airline flying to South America from the Middle East.
By 2013, Qatar Airways plans to serve 120 key business and leisure destinations worldwide with a modern fleet of 120 aircraft. Today, the airline’s fleet stands at 84 aircraft, flying to destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and North and South America.