Qatar Airways Airbus A350, the most technologically advanced commercial passenger aircraft in the skies. Qatar Airways is the global launch customer of the A350. This is an “outstanding” result for the award-winning airline, which has experienced a busy year of expansion and investment, as well as celebrating its 20th anniversary in the global aviation industry. Qatar Airways’ available seat kilometres (ASK) increased by 21.9% in the fiscal year 2017, to 185,208mn.
Qatar Airways Group chief executive Akbar al-Baker said, “Our annual results once again reflect the success of our expansion and growth strategy that has seen the Qatar Airways Group grow from a small regional airline into an aviation powerhouse over the last two decades.
“As we celebrate our 20th anniversary in the industry, I am proud to share our annual results with the world so that they can see how far we have come as an airline group and how our dedicated team of more than 43,000 employees have worked together to make Qatar Airways the huge success it is today.” During the fiscal year 2017, Qatar Airways made “significant” investments and partnerships; launched 10 new destinations; announced industry-changing on-board product developments and expanded its modern fleet to 196 aircraft.
In July 2016, the airline announced an increase in its stake in International Airlines Group (IAG) from 15.24% to 20.01%, strengthening its position as a shareholder in one of world’s biggest airline groups. A further strategic investment was made by the airline in December 2016, when it acquired 10% of LATAM Airline Group’s total shares. Other key partnerships secured throughout the same period include a joint business agreement with IAG subsidiary, British Airways, with revenue sharing on the London Heathrow-Doha route, as well as new codeshare partnerships with airlines such as Finnair, Iberia, Sri Lankan, Vueling and Air Botswana. During the fiscal year 2017, the airline continued to build its global network, adding 10 new destinations: Adelaide, Atlanta, Auckland, Helsinki, Krabi, (Thailand), Marrakech (Morocco), Pisa, Mahé, Windhoek, and Yerevan.
The airline has also announced that it will launch a record number of 24 new destinations next year, including Dublin, San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro, and Santiago. In order to support this ambitious growth strategy, the airline continues to expand its fleet, which as of March 31 boasted a total of 196 aircraft including seven Airbus A380s, 30 Boeing 787 Dreamliners and 16 Airbus A350s.
Showing its ongoing commitment to this evolution of its fleet, the airline also announced an “historic” agreement with Boeing in October 2016, to purchase up to 100 aircraft comprising 30 firm 787-9s and 10 firm 777-300ERs with a letter of intent to purchase up to a further 60 B737 MAX 8 aircraft. Continuing to spearhead innovation in the aviation industry, Qatar Airways revealed its revolutionary new first in business seat concept, Qsuite, at ITB Berlin in March 2017.
The patented design brings a new level of comfort and privacy to the premium class passenger experience with its fully customisable suites that allow parties of two, three or four to create their own unique space within the business class cabin. Qatar Airways’ success relies on the support of its home and hub, the Hamad International Airport, which was opened in 2014 and now handles more than 38mn passengers a year. The state-of-the-art airport was classified as a Five-Star airport by Skytrax at its 2017 World Airport Awards, becoming the first ever Middle East airport to achieve this honour.
The report said, “In early June, four countries, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Egypt took steps to sever diplomatic ties with the State of Qatar, and also closed transport connectivity by road, sea and air to these countries from Qatar. Qatar Airways continues to operate to the rest of its network as per its published schedules with day-to-day adjustments for operational and commercial efficiencies, which is the standard airline practice.”
HIA third-phase development plan underway
The Hamad International Airport’s third-phase development plan is underway, and this will add significant capacity to the airport and allow Qatar Airways to continue its upward growth trajectory.
Qatar Airways’ network depends on the HIA to connect its flights “efficiently and conveniently”. In this regard, the HIA continues to provide a strong and unmatched competitive advantage for Qatar Airways, serving 32mn Qatar Airways passengers annually. Not only is the HIA operationally efficient, supporting 88.4% on-time departures (within 15 minutes) but it is also among the top airports globally able to support connections below 60 minutes, Qatar Airways said in its ‘Annual report 2017.’