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Qatar Airways touches down in Dar es Salaam
Qatar Airways touches down in Dar es Salaam

Qatar Airways has celebrated the launch of its first new route of 2007 with its inaugural flight to Tanzania touching down in the country's commercial capital of Dar es Salaam to a fanfare of music and dance.

Government, airport and media officials were out in force at Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere International Airport to receive QR544 from Doha with the airline's Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker and a high-level delegation from Qatar onboard, including journalists from the Arab State.

Traditional Masai and Ngoma dancers and drummers welcomed passengers as they disembarked from the aircraft.

Qatar Airways' CEO Akbar Al Baker was joined by Tanzania's Honourable Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Development, Andrew Chenge and Honourable Minister for Tourism and Natural Resources, Jumanne Maghembe for the official cake-cutting ceremony at the airport.

Qatar Airways operates four flights a week non-stop between Doha International Airport in the capital of the State of Qatar, and Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam. The route is operated with an Airbus A319 in a two-class configuration of eight seats in Business and 102 in Economy.

Dar es Salaam is the first of nine new routes planned by Qatar Airways during 2007 - a year in which it celebrates its 10th anniversary since relaunching.

The Doha-based airline sees 2007 as a year of huge expansion with non-stop services planned to key destinations around the world - Bali, New York, Lagos, Ho Chi Minh City, Chennai, Ahmedabad and two, as yet to be announced, cities in northern and eastern Europe.

Al Baker said Dar es Salaam was a key city in the airline's strategy to build a stronger network of destinations across the African continent.

"I am absolutely delighted to see a Qatar Airways aircraft land in Tanzania for the first time to a wonderful and colourful welcome reception," he said.

"On behalf of Qatar Airways, I would like to thank the government, airport and Tanzania Tourism Board for their efforts in making this route a reality today and I am sure social and commercial ties between our two countries of Qatar and Tanzania will be strengthened with the success of this route.

"Tanzania is a strategically important country for Qatar Airways as we build our operations across Africa and provide our passengers with greater choice and a wider network of destinations with our award-winning Five Star service."

Addressing the media, he added: “There is strong traffic between both Europe and the Indian sub continent to east Africa and we, at Qatar Airways, look forward to facilitating travel via Doha for the tens of thousands of passengers a year who fly to and from your wonderful country here in Tanzania.

"Africa presents huge opportunities and we see this region as a growth area for Qatar Airways. Dar es Salaam is one of the premier business destinations in Africa and the gateway to fantastic holiday retreats such as Mount Kilimanjaro and many game reserves.

"We expect Dar es Salaam to be a highly popular route with tourists from around the world. All indications show from intensive analysis and research that this will be a highly successful route.

"Dar es Salaam is our 71st route and the first of what promises to be yet another exciting year for Qatar Airways with plenty of wonderful new routes planned during the course of 2007.

Qatar Airways' African network currently covers Casablanca, Algiers, Tunis, Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Khartoum, Tripoli, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Nairobi. Lagos joins the network in the first quarter of 2007.

Al Baker added that 2007 would be a year of massive expansion in frequencies, routes and fleet size for the airline.

"This is a year of huge celebration. We have come a long way since our relaunch in 1997 when we operated a handful of aircraft to a handful of routes. Now, in our 10th anniversary year, we have exciting new destinations joining Qatar Airways' growing family of routes, together with more flights on existing routes to give passengers more choice, and brand new Airbus and Boeing aircraft joining the fleet. We take delivery of the first of our Boeing 777s towards the end of 2007."

Al Baker said the expansion reinforced the message that Qatar Airways was one of the fastest growing airlines in the world, with 71 destinations served from Doha to cities across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Indian subcontinent and Far East.

With a growing international network, he added that more travellers would have an opportunity to use Qatar Airways' brand new Premium Terminal at Doha International Airport, exclusively for departing First and Business Class passengers.

The Premium Terminal features facilities such as a spa, jacuzzi, duty free, business centre and fine dining restaurants. Built in just nine months, the terminal is the world's first commercial passenger building dedicated to First and Business Class passengers.

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