To mark its tenth anniversary of flying to the USA, Qatar Airways has lit up the iconic Empire State Building in Manhatten, New York City. The top of the 443-metre high skyscraper was adorned in the airline’s signature colours of burgundy and white last night. The airline’s inaugural U.S. service took off from Doha on 28th June 2007 for the 13-hour 45-minute flight to New York JFK. Just one month later and the airline had added Washington DC to its route network.
Today, Qatar Airways operates 77 weekly flights between its hub at Hamad International Airport to ten destinations in the USA. That includes two daily departures to New York City, with the QR703 served by a state of the art Airbus A350-900 aircraft.
In 2016 alone, the airline added Los Angeles, Boston and Atlanta to its North American route network. Those destinations join Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Miami and Philadelphia. Next year, Qatar Airways plans to push ahead with its expansion by launching services to Las Vegas and San Francisco.
Speaking of the commemoration event, the airline’s CEO, Akbar Al Baker commented: “We were honoured to display our colours on one of the most iconic skyscrapers in the world.” A building that also acts as Qatar Airways regional HQ for the Americas. Baker continued: “We believe this is a true testament to our positive presence and fantastic support in the United States.”
“Never has Qatar Airways’ commitment to the American market been stronger, and providing a vital international link between the USA to Qatar and beyond remains our goal.”
Baker’s plan to “expand and grow” his airline’s presence in the U.S. comes as rivals, Emirates and Etihad scale back their ambitious expansion plans. Two weeks ago, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways announced it would be cutting its San Francisco service at the end of October. The airline had already reduced the service from a daily service to 3x weekly back in February.
Etihad said it had taken the decision because the route was underperforming although it maintained its services to five other U.S. destinations continue to perform well. Back in April, Etihad claimed it had no plans to drop or reduce any of its North American routes as a result of the proposed ‘Muslim Ban’ or enacted ‘Laptop ban’.
“The recent actions taken by the U.S. government relating to the issuance of entry visas, heightened security vetting and restrictions on electronic devices in aircraft cabins have had a direct impact on consumer interest and demand for air travel into the U.S.,” said a spokesperson for Emirates when it announced its own plan to reduce its U.S. services.
In May, Emirates cut back its Fort Lauderdale and Orlando services from daily to 5x weekly, while Seattle and Boston have gone from twice daily to once daily since June. Services to Los Angeles will also be cut in half with just a once daily service beginning in July.
Emirates said of the decision: “This is a commercial decision in response to weakened travel demand to the U.S.”
Yet there’s no such concern coming from the otherwise embattled Qatar Airways. As part of its anniversary celebrations, the airline will be launching a series of offers over the summer. This includes special offers for flights from the USA to over 100 destinations across the Qatar Airways route network. The airline also plans to offer bonus Qmiles for Privilege Club frequent flyer members.
The revolutionary QSuite business class seat is also set to feature on the airline’s services between Doha and New York City from September. The first commercial flight featuring the QSuite operated between Doha and London last week.
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