Qatar Airways launched its last route of the year, touching down in down in Hangzhou yesterday afternoon.
Hangzhou is the airline’s seventh route in China, and is preceded by Chengdu, which was introduced to the airline’s route network in September.
Flight QR 868 departed from the airline’s hub in Doha and landed at 1540hrs (local) in the capital and largest city of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China.
The new Hangzhou – Doha flight will be operated four times a week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
An Airbus A330 will be operated on the route in a two-class configuration featuring 24 seats in Business Class and 236 seats in Economy.
Upon arrival an official airport ceremony was held, attended by dignitaries from the Chinese government and Hangzhou International Airport.
Following the ceremony, the airline’s Chief Executive Officer, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker addressed media from China, emphasizing the airline’s ongoing commitment to the Chinese market.
The head table delegation included representatives from the Hangzhou International Airport including and Qatar Airways.
Mr. Shen Jian, Chairman of Hangzhou International Airport and Mr. Fang Chun Lin, the Chief Executive Officer of Hangzhou International Airport were seated alongside Mr. Al Baker as well as Qatar Airways Chief Commercial Officer, Marwan Koleilat.
Also present at the press conference were media from Hangzhou and other major cities in China, including Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai.
“As a route, Hangzhou has strong potential when linked with key destinations in Europe, the Americas, Middle East and Africa; now all easily accessible via Doha through a convenient non-stop flight,” said Al Baker.
“China’s outbound tourism has been growing rapidly in the past decade, and we look forward to bringing more passengers from and to Hangzhou, helping to further boost leisure and business travel in China.”
Hangzhou is an important economic and touristic center for China. It was named the second best city for doing business in China, according to Forbes 2012. It is also one of the most prosperous cities in terms of GDP per capita income.
The new route is the airline’s seventh destination in the country, with services to other cities in mainland China, including Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and also Hong Kong.
A total of 45 weekly services are offered non-stop between Doha and each of these cities.
Qatar Airways had a strong presence in China this year, launching two new routes to the country and also celebrated 10 years of services:
”We are proud to have provided our signature five-star services to the Chinese market successfully for the last ten years. Starting from 2003, Qatar Airways has progressively developed operations and business in China. Our widespread presence in the country with seven gateways clearly demonstrates our commitment and response to the growing demand from passengers to and from this region,” continued Al Baker.
With the addition of Hangzhou, Qatar Airways has increased its capacity across the country from 41 to 45 non-stop flights each week, becoming the biggest Middle-Eastern carrier serving China.
During the press conference Al Baker also stressed that Doha’s role as a future hub for global travellers would be greatly enhanced. “By joining the oneworld alliance as well as opening the new state-of-the-art Hamad International Airport next year, Qatar Airways is in a great position for presenting a modern hub for business and leisure travelers around the world.”
On October 30, 2013, Qatar Airways joined the oneworld global alliance, becoming the only major Gulf carrier to join a global airline alliance, enabling its customers to benefit from almost a thousand airports in more than 150 countries, with 14,000 daily departures.
Qatar Airways has seen rapid growth in just 16 years of operations, currently flying a modern fleet of 128 aircraft to 134 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and The Americas.
In 2013, Qatar Airways has launched eleven destinations to date – Gassim (Saudi Arabia), Najaf (Iraq), Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Chicago (USA), Salalah (Oman), Basra (Iraq), Sulaymaniyah (Iraq), Chengdu (China), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Ta’if (Saudi Arabia) and most recently Clark Manila International Airport (Philippines).
Over the next few weeks and months, the network will grow further Sharjah and Dubai World Central, both in the UAE (March 1, 2014), Philadelphia, USA (April 2, 2014), Larnaca, Cyprus (April 29, 2014), Sabiha Gokcen Airport, Turkey (May 22, 2014), Edinburgh, Scotland (May 28, 2014) Miami, USA (June 10, 2014) and Dallas, USA (1 July, 2014)