Posted on August 21, 2013

Qatar Airways today launched flights to its fifth destination in the Republic of Iraq, Sulaymaniyah, increasing the airline’s frequency across Iraq from 16 to 20 flights each week. The new services, which will operate four-times-a-week non-stop from the airline’s Doha hub, brings the carrier’s global network to 129 destinations worldwide.

The Doha – Sulaymaniyah route is being operated by a state-of-the-art Airbus A320 featuring 144 seats in a two-class configuration of 12 seats in Business Class and 132 seats in Economy. Selected aircraft feature seatback TV screens, providing passengers with the next generation interactive on board entertainment system, featuring a choice of more than 800 audio and video on-demand options, together with an SMS text messaging service from each seat.

The launch marks the rapid expansion by Qatar Airways in Iraq since the middle of 2012 when it began flights to Erbil, followed by the capital Baghdad, Najaf and Basra. Sulaymaniyah also marks the carrier’s fifth new Middle Eastern destination launched this year after Basra, Najaf, Gassim in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Salalah in Oman.

The arrival of Qatar Airways’ flight QR438 was welcomed with a water salute at Sulaymaniyah International Airport and a warm reception presided by local officials. Fathi Al Shehab, Qatar Airways Senior Vice President GCC, Levant, Iran and Indian Subcontinent, led an official delegation on the flight from Doha and was welcomed at the airport by Director General Sulaymaniyah International Airport Eng.Tahir Qadir.

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said he was delighted to see additional flights open up another entry point to Iraq. “The Republic of Iraq has been on our list of expansion priorities for some time and the last 12 months have seen us move forward very quickly opening up four new gateways in Iraq with a fifth, Sulaymaniyah, starting today,” he said.

“Qatar Airways’ commitment is strong as we continue to build on our already strong relationship between the State of Qatar and the Republic of Iraq,” Al Baker continued. “Opening up Iraq to the world with more travel options and flexibility has always been part of our general strategy to enter underserved markets and give the travelling public to and from such places the ability to travel with greater choice, bringing the world closer to them.”

The Sulaymaniyah flights connect to more than 100 destinations worldwide, including London, Paris, Singapore, Bangkok, Beijing, Johannesburg, Melbourne, Delhi and Mumbai. Addressing guests on arrival at Sulaymaniyah International Airport, Fathi Al Shehab acknowledged the warm support of the people of Sulaymaniyah and the local authorities.

“We are delighted to have added this new destination to our ever growing international route network and we congratulate the people of Sulaymaniyah on what is a very special day for their city. Qatar Airways is pleased to be able to support Iraq’s rebuilding and efforts with investments in new routes and local economies – and Sulaymaniyah is no exception,” he said.

”As we know, Sulaymaniyah is a huge oil and agriculture market offering ample business for those keen in taking part in the opportunities that exist in Iraq’s current restructuring process. It also has huge tourist potential.”

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