March 30 is the launch date for the much-anticipated launch of daily non-stop flights – Qatar Airways’ third US route which complements highly popular services to New York and Washington DC.

At just under 17 hours flying time, the Doha – Houston route will be one of the world’s longest non-stop flights operated with a Boeing 777-200 Long Range aircraft. Also the longest flight in Qatar Airways’ global network, the airline will fly daily to Houston’s George Bush International Airport offering flexibility and convenience to business and leisure passengers travelling to the city and beyond.

Addressing a packed press conference in Doha today, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said the company was gearing up for its first – and biggest – route launch of the year.

‘Qatar Airways is just weeks away from launching this historic route to Houston, which will connect the world’s energy capitals non-stop using our state-of-the-art Boeing 777 aircraft which features unrivalled levels of space and comfort,’

he said, speaking at the Sharq Village & Spa in the Qatari capital.

‘Houston is a very strategic route for Qatar Airways, providing us with a vital air bridge between two key markets. It also enables us to capitalise on increased bilateral business opportunities for the energy sectors across the Gulf states and the oil-producing southern region of the United States and neighbouring Latin American countries.’

Energy is the cornerstone of Qatar’s economy, accounting for over 85 per cent of total export earnings. The North Field of Qatar is the world’s largest gas zone, while Qatar’s total gas reserves amount to the third largest in the world.

Qatar Airways will deploy a 259-seat Boeing 777-200 Long Range aircraft on the route with a seating capacity of 42 in Business Class and 217 in Economy. The airline currently operates five Boeing 777-300 Extended Range aircraft, but the first Boeing 777-200 Long Range version is set to be delivered to the airline early next month.

Business Class passengers are able to enjoy comfortable and spacious seats offering a pitch of up to 78 inches with each seat converting into 180-degree fully flat beds. With a 2-2-2 seating configuration, Business Class passengers are assured of either a window or aisle seat and plenty of space.

In Economy Class, seat space is above the industry average with a pitch of up to 34 inches offering significant leg room, while the 217 seats in a 3-3-3 configuration are the most spacious of any airline flying to Houston.

Offering a superb experience in all class categories, Qatar Airways is renowned for its internationally acclaimed Five Star service, superior cuisine and on-board entertainment options, additionally earning the credit of being the first Middle East carrier to provide fully flat beds in business class to Houston.

Regardless of class of travel, passengers can enjoy the next generation interactive onboard entertainment system with a choice of more than 700 audio and video on demand options. From music, documentaries, movies, sport, comedy, children’s programmes and interactive games, passengers are rest assured of a great choice of entertainment.

Added Al Baker: ‘Over the past two weeks, we have visited three key cities across the Gulf with our roadshow to promote the new Houston flights through press briefings and gala dinners for local dignitaries, and corporate and travel trade partners.

”Having visited Dubai, Kuwait and Bahrain, we are today delighted to be in our home city of Doha to provide local media with further insight into the new route followed this evening by a fine night of hospitality featuring a celebratory gala dinner and entertainment.’

The roadshow continues onto Abu Dhabi on January 28 before ending in Muscat on February 10.

The new Houston link will be the Qatar national carrier’s first foray into the southern United States, connecting two significant global energy centres. Houston will complement Qatar Airways’ existing US routes to New York and Washington DC, launched in mid-2007. The airline currently offers daily non-stop flights between Doha and both New York’s JFK International Airport and Washington Dulles.

Home to the world’s largest medical facilities – Texas Medical Centre – Houston is America’s fourth most populated city. Headquarters for 18 Fortune 500 companies are located in Houston and there are over 5,000 energy-related businesses based in the biggest city in southern USA. The Arab community amounts to over 65,000 people in and around Houston.

Qatar’s oil was discovered in 1940 and the first traces of Houston’s oil were found in 1901, demonstrating the natural synergy between the two areas.

Qatar Airways has created a dedicated microsite at which visitors can easily navigate through a wealth of information on Houston and the Gulf region with details of the new route, an interactive video tour of the onboard experience, as well as a comprehensive directory of useful links and resources.

The airline currently operates a modern fleet of 65 Airbus and Boeing aircraft to 83 key business and leisure cities across Europe, Middle East, Africa, South Asia, Far East and North America.

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