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March 5, 2014updated Mar 24, 2014

Another Busy Year For Al Baker

By Chris Boyle

Akbar_Al_BakerQatar Airways will add at least seven new dots to its route map by July, according to Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker, with Larnaca, Edinburgh, Miami, Dallas, Tokyo Haneda and Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport. Already in a fast 17 years of growth the airline operates some 130 airplanes to 136 destinations.  By 2019 there will be 231 planes carrying 46 million passengers annually.

In what promises to be another busy year the group it will launch a full service airline serving Saudi Arabia domestic routes flying under the banner Al Maha Airways with a fleet eventually growing to double digits.

Current new aircraft orders exceed a book value of $50 billion, including 50 Boeing 777X placed during the recent Dubai Air Show.  The first Airbus A350 will enter the fleet for its launch customer in the fourth quarter while an all Business Class flight on A319s configured with 40 flat bed seats will become the airline’s seventh daily rotation between Doha and London Heathrow.

Fares will be priced above normal business class airfares.  Additional A320 narrow body aircraft are getting flat bed seats for use on routes to Eastern and Central Europe, and from June the airline’s first A380 will be plying the London route.

A new first class cabin on the mega jumbo will feature the widest first class seat in industry, perhaps the longest at 90 inches, 19 inch personal television screens and a special lounge, “a very unique concept never installed by any airline,” according to the CEO.

Joining oneworld has generated over $50 million in incremental revenue in the first four months, and the delayed Hamad International Airport will open imminently offering 30,000 square meters of retail space, 19 lounges, two hotels and even squash courts.  Eventually there be pre-clearance for visitors to the U.S. similar to what is now offered in Ireland, Canada and Abu Dhabi.

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