NAJAF, Republic of Iraq: Qatar Airways has introduced its latest gateway in the Republic of Iraq with the launch of scheduled flights to the central city of Najaf.
Following its move into Iraq six months ago with the start of flights to both the capital Baghdad and Erbil, the Doha-based airline has inaugurated new services to its third city in the country.
On the back of passenger demand to Iraq, Qatar Airways viewed expansion as being vital, fuelled by the country’s reconstruction drive.
The arrival of Qatar Airways’ flight QR 742 at Al Najaf International Airport was welcomed by a traditional water salute followed by a reception presided by local officials. Fathi Al Shehab, Qatar Airways Senior Vice President GCC, Levant, Iran and Indian Subcontinent, led an official delegation on the flight from the airline’s head office in the Qatari capital Doha.
With three Iraqi routes now in its stable, Qatar Airways takes its frequency across Baghdad, Erbil and Najaf up 50 per cent to 12 services each week.
Najaf, to be operated four-times-a-week, becomes destination number 124 in the airline’s global network spanning cities across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said: "With our new Najaf services, we are giving the people of Iraq more choice and greater travel options to fly around the world after years of restricted access to air services. Similarly, with all the reconstruction efforts well underway in Iraq, there is a need for flights to bring in construction workers.
"As an air service provider, we at Qatar Airways have the faith and are doing our bit in the rebuilding efforts of the country.
"Najaf represents a significant part of Qatar Airways’ growth strategy of opening new, diverse routes connecting people in underserved markets to destinations around the world with more ease and convenience than ever before."
Addressing guests gathered at Al Najaf International Airport, Fathi Al Shehab said: "Today is all about celebration and further developing our warm relations between the State of Qatar and the Republic of Iraq.
"On behalf of Qatar Airways, I would like to thank the government of Iraq, the local authorities and airport officials for supporting Qatar Airways’ expansion with the addition of an integral route to our international network that will offer great connections to the people of Najaf and the surrounding areas to such an exciting array of destinations globally such as London, Singapore, Tokyo, New York, Shanghai and Melbourne.
"Qatar Airways looks forward to welcoming our newest passengers to experience our award-winning world class service and fine hospitality."
The Doha – Najaf route is being operated by a state-of-the-art Airbus A320 featuring 144 seats in a two-class configuration of 12 seats in Business Class and 132 in Economy. The aircraft offers seatback TV screens, providing passengers with the next generation interactive onboard entertainment system, featuring a choice of more than 800 audio and video on-demand options, together with an SMS text messaging service from each seat.
The convenient timings of the Doha – Najaf flights allow for good connections to key destinations across the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas.
One of the world’s fastest growing airlines, Qatar Airways has seen rapid growth in just 16 years of operations, currently flying a modern fleet of 118 aircraft to 124 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and The Americas.
Over the next few weeks and months, Qatar Airways will launch services to a diverse portfolio of new routes, including Phnom Penh, Cambodia (February 20); Chengdu, China (March 19); Chicago, USA (April 10); and Salalah, Oman (May 22) with many more new start-ups planned. (QNA)