Doha : 2017 its 20th year of operations, Qatar Airways celebrated tremendous growth, network expansion and a record-breaking number of award wins.
Despite a challenging regional environment, the airline continued to deliver beyond expectations throughout 2017, accelerating new routes, doubling frequencies and capacity to numerous destinations and launching its award-winning new Business Class seat, Qsuite. At a time when many airlines are scaling back, Qatar Airways continued to thrive, showcasing to the world its award-winning, best-in-class cabins, catering, in-flight entertainment, on-board magazine, lounges and more.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, said, "This year, our twentieth anniversary as an airline, is particularly special for us. As we reflect on our achievements, we reaffirm our commitment to providing excellence in the skies, ensuring that our passenger's holiday or leisure trip starts the moment they step onto one of our aircraft. We remain committed to expanding our global network, and to taking our passengers anywhere in the world they wish to go."
"After twenty years of service, we vow to never rest on our achievements, but rather to focus on how we can continue to innovate, and to deliver an exceptional five-star experience to every one of our passengers, no matter what class they travel. Against the backdrop of the illegal blockade against the State of Qatar, we are more committed than ever to welcoming everyone onboard and taking them wherever they need to go."
One of the world's fastest-growing airlines, Qatar Airways launched 11 exciting new destinations in 2017, including Auckland, New Zealand_ the world's longest commercial flight_ Nice; France; Dublin, Republic of Ireland; Skopje; Sohar, Oman; Kyiv, Ukraine; Prague, Czech Republic, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Adana, Turkey; Chiang Mai, Thailand and St. Petersburg, Russia.
In addition to launching flights to beautiful Chiang Mai, its fourth destination in Thailand, the airline also introduced a fifth daily non-stop service to Bangkok as well as a daily service to Krabi, offering both business and leisure travellers even more convenience and flexibility when travelling to and from the Land of Smiles. In January 2018, it will commence service to Pattaya, the airline's fifth Thai destination.
Qatar Airways will also add a new direct daily service to Hanoi, with Ho Chi Minh City's daily service increasing by three flights a week to 10 starting January 1.
The airline introduced its superjumbo A380 aircraft to Melbourne and will soon introduce it on its Perth route, enhancing capacity to Australia ahead of the airline's launch of service to Canberra in 2018. Qatar Airways also proudly became the first airline ever to fly the state-of-the-art Airbus A350 to the Maldives twice daily.
Qatar Airways also doubled its frequencies to a number of destinations in Eastern Europe, the Nordics and Russia, following a significant increase in passenger demand to the popular destinations of Warsaw, Helsinki, and Moscow, with increases to Prague and Kyiv following just shortly after the launch of the routes themselves.
Qatar Airways enjoyed a record-breaking year in 2017, with the airline claiming more global awards than ever before in its 20th year of operations. Qatar's national carrier received more than 50 individual awards across multiple categories since January, demonstrating its continued commitment to exceeding passenger expectations with its innovative approach to product development and dedication to customer experience.
Qatar Airways took delivery of 19 new aircraft in 2017, taking its total fleet to 212 aircraft. The airline also recently upsized an earlier order for 50 Airbus A320neo with a firm order instead for 50 of the larger A321neo ACF (Airbus Cabin Flex configuration), in an order signed earlier this month in the presence of the Emir of the State of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Qatar Airways continued to forge strong partnerships around the world and proved its commitment to creating lasting relationships with global partners. In November, it announced an acquisition in fellow oneworld member Cathay Pacific, purchasing approximately 9.61 per cent of Cathay Pacific's total issued share capital.
The airline further strengthened its commitment to Italy with the acquisition of 49 per cent of AQA Holding, the new parent company of Meridiana fly (Meridiana), while the previous sole shareholder Alisarda has kept 51 per cent.
In June Qatar Airways released its annual results for the 2017 fiscal year, revealing an impressive 21.7 per cent year-on-year net profit increase. The results also showed an annual revenue increase of 10.4 per cent.
Qatar Airways looks ahead with excitement to 2018, when it will launch a host of exciting new destinations, including Penang, Malaysia; Canberra, Australia; Thessa-loniki, Greece and Cardiff, Wales, the airline's fifth UK gateway, to name just a few. The airline will also be the global launch customer and launch operator of the Airbus A350-1000 in 2018.
The highest standards of excellence, perseverance and a commitment to innovation are the values that have led Qatar Airways to be named the World's Best Airline in 2017, and which it will carry with it into 2018.