Chicago is the airline's first dedicated freighter destination in the United States and the airline's fourth destination, following passenger and cargo services to New York, Washington D.C. and Houston.
In the past three months, Qatar Airways Cargo has significantly ramped up its expansion with the recent introduction of two brand new Boeing 777 freighters adding capacity to the airline's dedicated cargo network. A third Boeing 777 freighter will join the airline's cargo fleet in 2011.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said the airline's first dedicated cargo route to the United States was a milestone achievement.
"With the recent introduction of Boeing 777 freighters into our cargo fleet, we've wasted no time in developing new markets, and we're especially pleased to be launching our first US cargo route to Chicago O'Hare, the busiest airport in the world. Qatar Airways Cargo operation is expanding exponentially and our focus on increasing our network means we are always finding new customers and offering existing customers more options and convenience,"
said Al Baker.
New freighter operations have recently commenced to Hong Kong, Mumbai, Cairo, Kolkata and Riyadh, with increases in frequency also planned.
The airline's services to Hong Kong will be boosted to five times a week, effective 16 August, up from the initial three weekly flights which began only two months ago.
The Boeing freighter has the longest range of any twin-engined freighter, and is based around the B777-200 Long Range aircraft of which Qatar Airways has six in its passenger fleet operating the airline's ultra long-haul routes to Houston, Melbourne, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires.
Qatar Airways is midway through an expansion drive that includes opening 13 new routes over a 12 month period. Seven new routes have been launched since February 2010 including Bengaluru (Bangalore), Copenhagen, Ankara, Tokyo, Barcelona, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires.
Six further routes, to be launched over a four month period from October 2010, will take the airline's passenger network to almost 100 destinations. The additions of Phuket (12 October), Hanoi (1 November), Nice (24 November), Bucharest (17 January), Budapest (17 January) and Brussels (31 January) will also present new markets for Qatar Airways Cargo to offer its expanding customer base.
Qatar Airways has 17 Boeing B777 aircraft in its passenger fleet with the delivery schedule for the full order of 32 B777s, including a total of three freighters, to be completed by the end of summer 2011.
In addition, Qatar Airways currently operates a modern fleet of 86 aircraft to 92 diverse cities across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North and South America. The airline has over 200 aircraft pending delivery with the orders worth more than $40bn.