Posted on February 16, 2011

Qatar Airways today announced its European expansion is continuing with the Italian city of Venice set to join the airline’s growing network, effective June 15.

Venice, the city world famous for being built on water and its beautiful canals, will become Qatar Airways’ third gateway in Italy after Milan and Rome to where the airline operates daily flights. The addition of daily services to Venice raises the airline’s Italian presence to 21 flights a week. It becomes the Doha-based airline’s 26th European destination in a remarkable period of growth which has seen seven new routes introduced on the Continent over the past 12 months.

Qatar Airways has launched flights to Ankara, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Nice, Bucharest, Budapest, Brussels – the latter three in January alone – taking its European portfolio to 24 cities. From March 6, scheduled services begin to the German automobile manufacturing city of Stuttgart.

For travellers heading to Venice to see the stunning Piazza San Marco, the beautiful Rialto bridge or experience romantic gondola rides, Qatar Airways’ newly-announced route comes just in time for the busy European summer holiday season. A year-round tourism destination, Venice stretches across 117 small islands along the Adriatic coastline in northeast Italy, hence being dubbed Queen of the Adriatic’, ‘City of Canals’ and Italy’s ‘Floating City.’

The new route, non-stop from Qatar Airways’ Doha hub, will be operated with the airline’s newest Airbus A320 aircraft, featuring seat-back TV screens offering a choice of over 700 interactive audio and video entertainment programming. The aircraft has 12 seats in Business Class and 132 in Economy.

Similarly, travellers from connecting cities in Qatar Airways’ network will soon have a third Italian destination to choose from, a city that attracts a staggering 20 million tourists each year, as well as strong business traffic.Passengers travelling from Venice can connect to an exciting range of business and leisure destinations served by Qatar Airways across the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific, via Doha.

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said: “Venice is a vibrant city with incredible appeal among leisure and business travellers, and we are confident that our new daily flights will be equally successful as our daily services to Rome and Milan.

“Italy is a large country where international traffic focuses mostly on Rome and Milan. By opening up the Venice route, it is very much in line with our long-term strategy of tapping into economically viable underserved markets. Venice has little long-haul access, therefore we are confident of a successful and profitable operation to this part of Italy.”

Marco Polo Airport in Venice serves one of the largest and most dynamic regions in Italy, home to many shoe, textile and eyeglass manufacturing companies with high export activity. The region is also well-known for its jewellery, as well as Murano glassworks and ceramics. Leading international fashion brands such as Diesel, Replay, Geox and United Colors of Benetton reside in close proximity, making Venice a vibrant commercial centre with also great potential for Qatar Airways’ cargo business.

While Venice has a relatively small population of around 270,000 inhabitants, the nearby cities of Bologna, Verona and Trieste collectively have a catchment area of over six million people, representing over 10 per cent of Italy’s total population.

The airline’s commitment to Europe has seen significant frequency increases on many European routes in recent months such as Paris, Geneva and Copenhagen. Capacity upgrades have also featured with the introduction of the carrier’s flagship Boeing 777 aircraft on several routes, including Madrid and London Heathrow. Qatar Airways currently operates a modern fleet of 94 aircraft, flying to 98 destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North and South America. By 2013, Qatar Airways plans to serve over 120 key business and leisure destinations worldwide with a fleet of more than 120 aircraft.