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Qatar delays plans for Saudi domestic launch

Posted 6 May 2014 · Add Comment

Qatar Airways has delayed its plans to launch Al Maha, its subsidiary licensed for the Saudi Arabian domestic market.


At the Bahrain Airshow in January, Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker said the new airline would be launched mid-year using aircraft from the Qatar fleet with repainted tails featuring the Arabian oryx (Al Maha) in green rather than the Doha airline’s signature maroon colours.

But speaking at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai, Al Baker said the airline would be using new A320s from Airbus and that they would not be delivered until later in the year.

“Unfortunately aircraft do not grow on trees,” he said. “We have to wait but this airline will start with new aircraft.”

Al Maha is set to operate from Damman in competition with privately-owned Saudi Gulf. Al Baker said the airline would be operating by the end of the year following the A320s delivery in November.

Much earlier on the scene will be the first of 13 Airbus A380s which have been ordered by Qatar and will arrive in Doha in June.

At ATM, Qatar displayed its new luxury first class seats providing travel professionals from around the world with an opportunity to sample the seats and amenities.

The product offers a seat pitch just over 2.2 meters long and can be converted into a fully flat bed. In addition, the seat unit, the widest in the industry, allows for access to a 26-inch screen with a variety of entertainment options. There is also a privacy screen, increased personal storage as well as the ability for two passengers to sit across from each other while dining.

The aircraft will be based at Doha’s newly operational King Hamad International airport as Qatar Airways will be moving all of its operations to the new airport on May 27.

Qatar will also be introducing new lounges for its first and business class customers.

“We lost our title of airline of the year,” Al Baker said. “That was not due to anything that the airline did wrong but because of the overcrowding we have had at Doha. It is all part of the passenger experience. With the move to the new airport that will change.”

In his press conference Al Baker said he had “no regrets” about being an early adopter of the Boeing 787, “it is a great airplane,” he said. Nor was he concerned about being late to market with the A380, “The problems have been ironed out,” he said.

Qatar is about to embark on a major expansion

with 300 additional aircraft, worth more than $60 billion, on order including, 80 Airbus A350s, 13 Airbus A330 Freighters, 60 Boeing 787s, 13 Boeing 777s (including freighters), 50 Boeing 777x, 80 Airbus A320s Neos and 13 Airbus A380-800s.

The first A350 could be delivered as soon as November. The aircraft is due to conduct hot-weather testing in Qatar during the summer as part of the certification process,


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