ISTANBUL: Qatar Airways has continued its expansion plans with the launch of direct flights to its third destination in Turkey.
The airline’s inaugural flight to Istanbul Sabiha Gِkçen International Airport touched down on Thursday evening to mark the five-star career’s 140th destination from Doha.
The historic flight signalled the start of a four-times-weekly service to Istanbul Sabiha Gِkçen, extending its reach in Turkey’s largest city.
The route, to operated by an Airbus A320, with 12 seats in Business Class and 132 in Economy, is QA’s third route to Turkey, in addition to Istanbul Ataturk Airport and Ankara.
With the addition of Istanbul Sabiha Gِkçen, the number of flights to Turkey rises from 14 to 18 each week.
A water cannon salute and traditional Turkish folk dance show greeted the inaugural flight, which carried QA’s Chief Commercial Officer, Marwan Koleilat. Airport officials and dignitaries, including. Gِkhan Buday, CEO, Istanbul Sabiha Gِkçen International Airport, and Qatari Ambassador Salem Mubarak Al Shafi were present.
“QA has reached yet another key milestone in Turkey, with the launch of four additional weekly flights to this fast-growing country,” Koleilat told a press conference.
“Istanbul is a magical city, rich in history and culture so we are thrilled to be providing this new scheduled service to Istanbul Sabiha Gِkçen, an airport that serves as a vital connecting hub between Asia and Europe.”
With the new route, QA will be serving travellers from the eastern (Asian) side of Istanbul in addition to Ataturk Airport which services the population in the western (European) side of the city separated by the Bosphorus.
The Istanbul Sabiha Gِkçen operation provides a non-stop link to Doha with excellent onward connections to over 100 destinations, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bangkok, the Maldives, Bali, Singapore, Melbourne and Hong Kong.
Buday said: “The new route is expected to further strengthen Qatar and Turkey’s strong business and commercial links and help meet increasing tourist demand, driven by a recent upward surge in Turkey’s tourism industry.”
Flight schedules between Istanbul Sabiha Gِkçen Airport and Doha are as follow:
Mondays and Saturdays
Depart Doha QR243 at 1355 and arrive at Sabiha Airport at 1810 and depart Sabiha Airport QR244 at 1905 and arrive in Doha at 2300.
Tuesdays and Thursdays
Depart Doha QR243 at 1320 and arrive at Sabiha Airport at 1735 and depart Sabiha Airport QR244 at 1835 and arrive in Doha at 2230
QA has seen rapid growth in 17 years of operation and now it flies a modern fleet of 134 aircraft to 140 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and North and South Americas.
The network will grow further with Edinburgh, Scotland (May 28), Miami, US (June 10), Tokyo Haneda, Japan (June 18), Dallas/Fort Worth, US (July 1) and Djibouti (July 27).