Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) announced that Qatar Airways, recipient of numerous Skytrax industry awards and twice named the Best Airline for International Travel by Business Traveller USA, has chosen Philadelphia as the airline’s fifth U.S. city. Qatar Airways is scheduled to begin nonstop service from PHL to Doha, the capital of the State of Qatar, in March 2014. Boeing 777 aircraft will serve the route, which is Philadelphia’s first to the independent state in the Southern Arabian Gulf region of the Middle East.
“This is a great day for the entire Philadelphia region,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “Convenient international air service in today’s global marketplace is essential to the economic vitality of a region, and this new direct service to Qatar gives businesses in the greater Philadelphia area access to a nation that has the world’s highest per capita GDP.”
The new service to PHL is the first by a foreign flag carrier in more than a decade. Qatar is the first foreign flag airline to the Middle East from PHL and would become the 4th non-U.S. airline to serve Philadelphia.
Qatar Airways serves more than 120 cities in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and North and South America.
Added Rina Cutler, Deputy Mayor, Transportation and Utilities: “Qatar Airways has distinguished itself as one of the best airlines in the world, and we are very excited that it has chosen to serve Philadelphia International Airport. This is terrific news for our Airport and our City, and I want to acknowledge Mark Gale and his staff as well as representatives from a variety of business and tourism sectors who worked hard on getting this new service.”
Earlier this year, Mayor Nutter and several City officials, including Airport CEO Mark Gale, met with representatives of the U.S. – Qatar Business Council, a non-profit, private sector organization that provides a forum for discussion of key economic, commercial and other issues of interest to American companies doing or planning to do business in Qatar. The Qatar delegation spent 2 days in the City and visited the Airport, where they met with Gale and members of PHL’s executive staff and were given a detailed presentation on the Airport including air service development.
Qatar Airways is the fifth new airline since 2011 to announce it would begin serving PHL. Virgin America and Alaska Airlines began new service in 2012, Spirit Airlines launched at PHL in April and Jet Blue will start service later this month.
“We are very proud of our successes in bringing new air service to the Philadelphia region, and this announcement by Qatar is great news for our traveling public, especially business travelers, who will have convenient access to an important economic center in the Middle East and beyond,” Gale said. “We look forward to Qatar’s new service and a long relationship with this award-winning international carrier.”
In a press release issued by Qatar Airways, the carrier’s Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker noted that “Philadelphia is one of the major hubs of the soon-to-be-merged American Airlines / US Airways and will provide Qatar Airways’ customers with onward connections to over 100 cities. With the implementation of code share agreements with American Airlines and Jet Blue, which offer numerous connections beyond our U.S. gateways, Qatar Airlines is making big strides to strengthen its presence in the United States to ultimately give our passengers greater travel options.”
Qatar has a 5-star rating by SkyTrax, which named Qatar Airways Airline of the Year in 2011 and 2012 as well as the Best Airline in the Middle East seven consecutive years. Business Traveller Middle East also named Qatar Airways Best Business Class in the World in 2012, while Business Traveller USA named Qatar Airways Best Business Class to the Middle East in 2011.