With airlines cutting back on service to and from Athens and fewer direct flights to the United States, Qatar Airways said that it will start daily direct flights between Athens and New York in 2013 throughout the year, taking advantage of the void created by the cessation of all direct flights on the route this winter.
Delta Air Lines had been the last major carrier to fly directly between New York and Athens year round but has cut back to only running the flight from May to October. The route used to be a staple for Olympic Air before it too dropped the flight. People who want to fly between the U.S. and Athens have to make stops.
Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker made the announcement in Athens on the occasion of the airline’s eight-year presence in Greece and to commemorate the carrier’s increasingly strong operations in the country.
While in the Greek capital, Al Baker met with Athens-based media, reinforcing the airline’s commitment to continue growing its operations in Greece. Qatar Airways already flies double daily linking the Greek capital with its operational hub in Doha.
Athens is a key point on the airline’s 31-strong European route network, introduced in 2004 initially with six-flights-a-week. The carrier increased capacity to double-daily three years ago. The Athens route continues to grow with strong demand despite the financial crisis in the country.
Al Baker said: “The Athens – Doha route has become the number one intercontinental destination in absolute number of passengers at Athens International Airport, surpassing for the first time in the airport’s history, New York City.
“And launching this new route from Athens to New York from the middle of next year will provide passengers with an even more unique travel experience, strengthening Qatar Airways’ reputation as the airline of choice for leisure and business travellers.”
In a brief presentation of the airline’s chart to success in just 15 years of operations, Al Baker highlighted the fact that the airline had become a pillar of the State of Qatar’s economic growth thereby spreading the nation’s wings all around the world.
Qatar Airways marks eight years of flying to Athens this year. The airline’s CEO Akbar Al Baker, pictured right, at a press briefing in the Greek capital alongside Chief Executive of Athens Airport Authority Ioannis Paraschis; Qatar Airways Vice President Europe Paul Johannes, third right, and Qatar Airways Commercial Manager Greece, Alexandros Michalopoulos.
He stated that Qatar Airways will continue to expand its role as a global connector that brings people to the world and the world to people, through an ever expanding network of a young fleet and its award-winning five-star service.
Describing the Athens route as “a combined symbol of a home base and a gateway”, Al Baker stated that the “ties that have been forged between us during these past eight years extend the horizons of a solid and lasting cooperation between Qatar Airways and Greece which are here to stay. And it is here to grow further.”
Qatar Airways currently flies a modern fleet of 114 aircraft to 121 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.
Al Baker referred to the airline’s global expansion strategy stating that in 2012, Qatar Airways’ route portfolio was enriched with new route launches from Qatar to diverse destinations worldwide: Azerbaijan, Georgia, Rwanda, Croatia, Iraq, Australia, Tanzania, Myanmar, Serbia and Mozambique.
Poland will be served by Qatar Airways from December 5, rounding off a remarkable year of expansion, while Cambodia and Chicago, the carrier’s fourth US gateway, are among the highlights of 2013.
Since the beginning of 2012, Qatar Airways has launched flights to 11 new destinations – Baku (Azerbaijan); Tbilisi (Georgia); Kigali (Rwanda); Zagreb (Croatia), Erbil (Iraq), Baghdad (Iraq), Perth (Australia), Kilimanjaro (Tanzania); Yangon (Myanmar), Maputo (Mozambique) and Belgrade (Serbia).
Over the next few weeks and months, Qatar Airways will launch scheduled services to a diverse portfolio of new routes, including Gassim, Saudi Arabia (7 January 2013); Najaf, Iraq (January 23); Phnom Penh, Cambodia (February 20); Chicago, USA (April 10); and Salalah, Oman (May 22).