Qatar Airways concluded the year 2019 on a positive note following 365 days of strong network expansion and new aircraft deliveries, complemented by a ‘World’s Best Airline’ Skytrax Award for the fifth time.
Chief executive, Qatar Airways Group, HE Akbar Al Baker enthused: “2019 was another year of great achievement for Qatar Airways. There have been many highlights during the last 12 months, in particular receiving the highly prized ‘Best Airline in the World’ award from Skytrax at this year’s Paris Air Show. To have won the accolade for a record fifth time for my country and our airline was a truly special moment.
“Our many achievements in 2019 are proof of one immutable fact – that Qatar Airways will never deviate from our commitment to provide our millions of passengers with the very best onboard experience every time they travel with us. Our growth over the last 12 months, in the face of adversity, has been impressive and going forward we will look to continue to prosper,” he added.
Throughout 2019, the Qatari carrier reached a number of milestones, such as the delivery of 32 aircraft, including its 250th Airbus A350-900 in March. The airline additionally announced that it had converted 10 of its Airbus A321neo order to the A321LR, a longer-range variant which will allow it to connect with new growing markets from Doha. By the close of the year, the total combined fleet size of passenger, cargo and Qatar Executive stood at 259.
As for route expansion and partnerships, Qatar Airways launched services to new destinations in 2019, including Davao, Philippines; Gaborone, Botswana; Izmir, Turkey; Langkawi, Malaysia; Lisbon, Portugal; Mogadishu, Somalia; Rabat, Morocco; and Valletta, Malta. These new flights boosted the carrier’s network to over 160 destinations.
The airline also increased frequencies on dozens of routes, including Amman, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Kuwait, Larnaca, Manchester, Miami, Milan, Penang and Vienna.
Adding to this, the carrier signed or extended a number of codeshare agreements with world-class airline partners, including IndiGo Airlines, LATAM, China Southern and SriLankan Airlines.
Finally, the portfolio and investment strategy of the Qatar Airways Group continued to progress and diversify in 2019. In January, the on-market purchase of certain A shares and H shares of China Southern Airlines Company Limited (China Southern Airlines) resulted in an aggregate holding of approximately five per cent of the total issued share capital. The summer saw the airline commit to significant new orders for Boeing aircraft, Gulfstream Executive Jets and GE Engines, and December heralded the announcement of an agreement with Republic of Rwanda to develop, invest and operate at a new international airport in Kigali. The airline will own 60 per cent of the new airport, with the remainder being held by the Government of Rwanda.