LONDON – On Tuesday, AviationSource was invited to a closed meeting with the U.S Chamber of Commerce with a panel featuring some of the biggest names in U.S business and H.E. Akbar Al Baker, the CEO of Qatar Airways.
The meeting was a panel-based discussion on how Qatar was looking to expand its reach and how it hoped the recovery of the global aviation market would soon start after a tough year for many airlines, with many more expected to see reductions in the fleet and personal sizes over the remainder of 2021 as the market starts to move towards recovery and government supports ends.
During the meeting, there was a small question and answer section where some members of the panel were able to ask H.E. Akbar Al Baker some questions related to the current position of Qatar and their plans for U.S expansion.
One of the major points mentioned by Al Baker was his comments relating to the Boeing 777X program, which Qatar is currently hoping to be the launch customer for, but with some issues still to be agreed on between Qatar and Boeing, there is still no official confirmation on this.
Boeing had informed the carrier that a delay on the aircraft would now mean that it would need to see the plane delivered until 2023, where Qatar is expecting to take delivery of its first three Boeing 777X aircraft.
With the plane then likely to enter service shortly after that same year, Boeing continues to work with Qatar and the engine manufacturer General Electric (GE) to fine-tune and fix items on the new aircraft to ensure that when it enters service it is fit for the airlines that have ordered it and that above all the plane meets safety.
When asked about the potential of a freighter version of the 777X Mr. Al Baker said “As far as the freighter goes, we do not know about it, they have not announced it officially and when they notify us that they are going to launch a freighter version of the 777X, we will defiantly be interested in looking into it, because by the time any new launch of a program by either Boeing or Airbus is announced it will be at a time when we are going to be looking into starting to replace our current Boeing 777 aircraft, with modern state of the art fuel efficient aircraft”.
Qatar in a strong position coming out of pandemic
Even with the global damage sustained by the COVID-19 pandemic, Qatar Airways remains in a strong position to continue to grow and follow its expansion plans as restrictions around the globe continue to ease.
Over the last year, the carrier has extended its reach across the U.S market with it opening new routes to both Seattle and San Francisco, which now means that the carrier operates flights from Doha to 11 U.S gateways.
One of the main reasons for Qatar’s success in the U.S was down to the fact that during the height of the pandemic while many carriers shut down services and canceled flights, they pushed forward to ensure that all Qatar Airways customers and non-Qatar customers were helped with getting back home to the U.S with the airline paying out more than 1.65 Billion U.S dollars worth of refunds in the first six months.
Because of this commitment to the safety and security of not just its loyal customers but the whole traveling public, Mr Al Baker said “You can tell that this now shows that Qatar Airways is committed to the traveling public and that it has shown it will be there for its customers even during the hardest times”
Doha Ready To Accept Increased Traffic For The 2022 FIFA World Cup
With the FIFA world cup only one year away Mr. Al Baker was asked how Qatar’s home hub Hamad International Airport is doing in terms of perorations for the increased traffic that is expected as Qatar opens its doors to the world.
He said: “Hamad international is already very advanced in its expansion to cater for the huge rush we will have during FIFA 2022 with expansion work also being done on the western side of the runway which will increase and open up additional aircraft parking spaces and in order to cater for a huge influx of chartered flights in an already busy scheduled airport,”
“We have started work to renovate and reactivate the old airport, which is just 5km to the west of Hamad International, so we will have a huge capacity and ability to smoothly connect and handle all the people whole will come to watch the FIFA games in 2022.”
What is clear to see and was very prominent at the meeting was that Qatar Airways is driven to show people that the image of the company that many had said was bad for years is simply not the case.
With the carrier taking huge strides forward in recent years, this has placed them as one of the best airlines in the globe and with more companies expected to collapse before the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, we can expect to see Qatar Airways continue to expand and share its name on the global market.